A property management firm and its fire risk assessors face a hefty fine for fire safety breaches following a blaze which saw 17 people evacuated.
Teesside Crown Court heard that the fire broke out in a flat at Tower Chambers, Tower Street, Hartlepool, during the early hours of 2nd February 2022, which resulted in the large-scale evacuation, including five people having to be rescued by the fire brigade.
Hartlepool-based Asset Property Management North East Ltd admitted failing to provide adequate general fire precautions, failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, failing to provide adequate fire doors to protect the escape route, and failing to maintain fire safety facilities which were provided, specifically the fire detection and warning system.
The company had contracted Stockon-on-Tees-based Total Safety Events to complete the fire risk assessment on its behalf, which then subcontracted the work to Justin Morgan.
Total Safety Events admitted failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment, while Morgan had admitted to failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and failing to cooperate and coordinate his activities with other responsible persons, at an earlier hearing.
Ian Hayton (pictured), chief fire officer at Cleveland Fire Brigade, says the outcome of the court case reflects the seriousness of the offences. He adds: “We always seek to work with business owners in the first instance to maintain fire safety standards within their premises.
“Where individuals responsible for building fire safety completely disregard their duty and place people at risk, Cleveland Fire Authority will not hesitate to use all of its powers and prosecute offenders where necessary.”
Sentencing will take place next month when the firms can expect a big fine – there is no monetary limit for serious offences – while individuals can face jail time.
Picture credit Harman Healy auctioneers.