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Landlord and management co handed record fine over fire safety failures

A corporate landlord and its management company which both failed to carry out a fire risk assessment for an apartment building in London have been fined a total £250,000 after a fire broke out and destroyed the premises.

The fire broke out at an apartment building (pictured) on Eccleston Square in Pimlico, London | Image credit: LFB

Property owner Crownpark Investments along with City Estates, which managed the six-floor terraced house conversion on Eccleston Square in Pimlico, pleaded guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. They were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.  

The fire broke out during the early hours of 21 February 2011. Eight fire engines and around 60 firefighters were called to tackle to blaze, which badly damaged the second, third and fourth floors. Thirteen people had to be rescued. 

Following the incident, inspectors from the London Fire Brigade (LFB) discovered several fire safety failings, including a lack of fire alarm or detection system inside the flats and communal areas, and no fire risk assessment in place for the building. They also found that the doors to the individual flats provided inadequate protection to the escape route in the event of a fire. 

Judge Griffiths sentenced the companies on 25 May. He said both defendants had been aware of the fire safety failings within the property but reacted “by putting their heads in the sand”, and described the building as an “accident waiting to happen”.  

City Estates was fined £120,000 for not carrying out a fire risk assessment, £15,000 for failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection, and £15,000 for failing to ensure persons could evacuate the building safely. 

Crownpark Investments was fined £80,000, £10,000 and £10,000 for the same breaches respectively. 

The fine is the biggest financial penalty handed down in a fire safety prosecution case brought by the LFB relating to a single privately rented property. LFB was also awarded full prosecution costs of £49,500. 

Following the case, LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly said: “The landlord and management company showed utter contempt for the safety of their tenants when they so blatantly ignored the fire safety failures in the building. Hopefully the size of the fine handed down in this case will send a strong message to other private landlords who ignore their fire safety responsibilities in such a brazen way.”

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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