Safety & Health Practioner reported: a property managing agent has been ordered to pay more than £80,000 for safety failings which “exposed a potentially large number of people to risk of death or serious injury from fire”
London Fire Brigade inspectors found serious fire safety defects during two visits to a five-storey building on Danbury Street in Islington.
An Enforcement Notice requiring the company to address the concerns was issued following a visit in 2016, which was subsequently sufficiently complied with. However, a later visit then found similar defects to the previous inspection.
The building consists of more than 40 self-contained flats let out to tenants and the inspections revealed deficiencies including:
- Combustible material near the entrance to the premises.
- Lack of fire extinguishers and signage.
- Doors wedged open.
- Holes within the walls and a non-functioning fire alarm.
The company was charged with 10 separate offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order and entered guilty pleas to all charges.
The judge found that the company fell far short of the appropriate standards and there was serious and/or systemic failure within the organisation to address risks.
The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said “The combined effect of the deficiencies was that if a fire had started, there was a risk of an uncontrolled spread of heat, and smoke and flames affecting the whole premises, coupled with the only means of escape being overcome with smoke.
“In sentencing, the judge made it clear that she increased the fine because of the large number of residents that had been put at risk by the company’s lack of action to address concerns.
“We are pleased with the outcome of this case, which is thanks to the hard work which is done every day by our fire safety inspectors. It should also serve as a warning to property managers that we will take action where people are not taking their responsibilities seriously.
“There’s no excuse for leaving people’s safety to chance, especially when information is so readily available to those with responsibility for safety in buildings to understand what their duties are and ensure they comply with the law.”
Charges and penalties
The company was charged with the below offences, entering a guilty plea to all.
- Take general fire precautions
- Have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
- Ensure appropriate fire arrangements
- Ensure exit routes were clear and unlocked
- Ensure appropriate fire safety measures in place and conveyed to employees and residents
- Maintain and ensure fire safety equipment
- Provide employees with sufficient fire safety information
- Provide adequate safety training
- Ensure adequate structural compartmentation
- A further charge in respect of combustible items in the second inspection
They were ordered to pay a fine of £60,000 on the first charge (with no separate penalties for the remaining charges), a victim surcharge of £170 and costs of £20,000. The total of £80,170 is to be paid over 10 months at a rate of £8,000 a month.
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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, International Fire Buyer
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922