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Property company fined almost half a million pounds for inadequate fire safety

Thursday 13th April 2017


Surrey Fire and Rescue Service send strong message to country regarding fire safety in commercial properties.

Following the judgement in Guildford Crown Court on 11th April for fire safety failures at a retirement home resulting in the death of an elderly woman, it is clear that the enforcement agencies will no longer tolerate companies having inadequate fire risk assessments and policies putting lives at risk.

"The fine imposed in this case is one of the biggest that we know of for a breach of fire safety regulations and we hope it sends a clear message to businesses to take seriously their responsibilities to keep people safe from fire.
We will always work with businesses to help them comply with fire safety laws but where we find breaches which risk lives or serious injury we won't hesitate to prosecute."

 

- Nigel Gray, Assistant Group Commander Surrey Fire and Rescue Service

The residential property management group, FirstPort, pleaded guilty to four charges resulting in the large fine including:

 

  • Failure to create a suitable and sufficient risk assessment
  • Failure to take general fire precautions
  • Failure to implement suitable fire system maintenance

 

This prosecution comes less than two weeks after a £100,000 fine for a Care home in Somerset for breaching fire safety regulations and days after two lives were taken from the devastating fire at Newgrange Care Home on 8th April, with three more people needing hospital treatment for burns and smoke inhalation.


The relevant Fire legislation across the UK calls for a duty of care that requires a ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessment to identify the fire precautions needed and implement appropriate arrangements in terms of effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring, maintenance and review of these preventive and protective measures.


The designated responsible person in a premises is accountable for the adequacy of their company’s fire risk assessment by law, rather than the assessor. To meet this requirement, where the responsible person does not consider that they have the required skills, they have to consider the competence of any external organisation that they employ to carry out the work.


To be sure of this, the responsible person should be looking for third party certificated providers - to check that they are competent, have a professional business and that an external, accredited body has regularly assessed them.


The BAFE SP205 scheme ensures the competence of fire risk assessment providers. All BAFE registered companies are third party certificated in specific areas of fire protection by UKAS accredited bodies, offering a quality audit process you can trust. If you want to ensure that you are doing everything possible to protect your premises, staff and visitors and complying with the law, use BAFE to find a third party certified company near you.

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