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19th June 2024

Sheffield Landlord Sentenced For Breaching Fire Safety Laws

Colourful properties on a road

What’s Happened?

The Landlord of a residential block of flats in Sheffield has recently been sentenced to six months in prison, a £10,000 fine and an additional 250 hours of community service after admitting to violations of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

A fire broke out at the property in the early morning of 25th February that resulted in eleven people becoming trapped inside the building and requiring rescue by South Yorkshire Firefighters.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus managed to locate the individuals, remaining with them until the blaze was fully extinguished and the property could be ventilated.

The single staircase inside the property was understood to have collapsed during the fire, causing a firefighter to fall through the stairs.

During a post-incident investigation, inspecting officers from the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service found no fire alarm or emergency lighting at the premises as well as a poor standard of fire doors on-site and a lack of staircase ventilation.

In Court

The Landlord appeared at Sheffield Crown Court on 6 June 2024, having pleaded guilty (at an earlier hearing held on 9 May at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court) to six charges of failing to comply with articles under the Fire Safety Order.

The Judge concluded that there must be a custodial sentence handed down given the seriousness of the offences, the fact that they relate to two premises and multiple breaches of the Fire Safety Order and that there was a real risk of serious harm.

As a result, the Landlord was sentenced to six months in prison for each of the offences to run concurrently. The sentence is suspended for 18 months. He will be required to complete 250 hours of unpaid work for the benefit of the community and has been ordered to pay £10,000 of prosecution costs at £1,000 per month.

Handing down the sentence, The Judge remarked: “There had been a dreadful fire, which resulted in a firefighter falling through the stairs. It could have been catastrophic and was, in my view, a near-fatal fire episode.”

After the case concluded, The Deputy Chief Fire Officer from the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service noted:

“Landlords and other ‘Responsible Persons’ are responsible for preventing fires in the first instance. Should a fire then occur in a building for which they are responsible, other protection measures then become absolutely critical.”

“This sentence is a reminder to all ‘Responsible Persons’ that we can and will prosecute them when they fail to adhere to the laws which are there to keep people safe.”

In residential properties of this type, a suitable fire risk assessment is expected to have been carried out by a competent person. This assessment would duly identify the necessary fire safety measures such as fire alarms, emergency lighting, evacuation strategy and appropriate protected escape routes to be managed by a ‘Responsible Person’. There has been a statutory legal requirement in place to undertake Fire Risk Assessments for many years.

If you have any queries regarding fire safety or fire risk assessments then don’t hesitate to call our health and safety advice line on 0300 303 5228 or email us at info@lighthouseriskservices.co.uk

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The competent person role does not have to be fulfilled internally within every company. You can, therefore, outsource the appointment to a contractor or consultancy with the necessary qualifications and experience.

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