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NEWS


Fines and prosecutions Care home fined after fire safety concerns


LAVENDER HOUSE Residential Home in Alsager, Cheshire saw bedrooms shut down after inspections found elderly residents were ‘at risk’ from a fire. Stoke Sentinel reported on


the prosecution of the home after Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) undertook a safety audit in August 2016. The home cares for up 20 residents, with inspectors finding a range of fire safety issues. These included holes in the ceiling, a lack of fire detectors in the storeroom, and a window left open that was not marked as fire resistant, which ‘caused external stairs to be unprotected’ from fire. Doors were not sealed ‘to prevent


the spread of smoke’; there were gaps between doors and door frames throughout the building; there was no evacuation procedure; and there was no system for maintenance and testing of fire procedures. A fire risk assessment (FRA) had been carried out in 2014, but the home failed to implement all of the recommendations, and after the CFRS audit a number of the rooms were closed ‘until emergency fire risks were dealt with’. The home is run by managing


director Catherine Lucking, and her solicitor Christopher Hopkins said at Chester Crown Court that she had been ‘involved in’ running the home since 2004. Her relationship with her husband broke down in 2013, leaving her as the ‘sole director’, and in mitigation Mr Hopkins said that ‘her husband had taken the administrative


MAHMOOD HUSSAIN was jailed for six months and fined £20,000 for breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 [FSO] at the A1 Hotel in Sherwood, Nottingham. Nottingham Post reported on


role in fire safety and health safety’, as Miss Lucking’s background was in nursing. As a result, she had approached a friend who had served with Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service for 30 years to undertake the 2014 FRA, but his recommendations ‘failed to meet fire safety requirements’, and Mr Hopkins added: ‘She was led to believe he was able to carry out a fire-risk assessment, but his assessment fell short of current standards.’ Prosecutor Joseph Hart responded:


‘This is a residential care home that cares for elderly individuals who have a number of health difficulties. They are vulnerable in the event of a fire, not just because they are sleeping there but because of their other complex needs. If this was a block of student flats and they had an evacuation plan on the back of their door, they would know to run down the stairs.


‘Here everything is reliant on


systems and processes of evacuation and there hadn’t been an effective evacuation drill. There were a number of individuals at risk and a number of individuals sleeping in the premises.’ The home admitted to seven


breaches of fire safety regulations, and was fined £40,000, with judge Simon Berkson stating that this fine was ‘necessary and appropriate’, adding: ‘This is a residential home that cares for the elderly and where many have health problems and are sleeping in the premises. On August 1, 2016 the care home failed to pay attention to fire safety law. ‘There was a lack of fire


detectors and fire escapes, and they failed to have proper fire drills. After failing the inspection, certain bedrooms could not be used until emergency improvements were made.’


Prison sentence for hotel’s fire safety breaches escape routes, and a failure to make


the prosecution of Mr Hussain, who pleaded guilty to five offences under the FSO. This was over his failure to comply with an enforcement notice from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), and failing to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment. Other breaches included a ‘failure to provide and maintain’ adequate


‘appropriate’ fire safety arrangements, as well as a failure to ‘routinely maintain the fire alarm and emergency lighting systems’. Judge MacAdam stated that Mr Hussain showed a ‘wilful disregard’ for fire safety, and ‘continued to profit whilst placing hotel residents at risk’. The judge added that an


immediate jail sentence was necessary because ‘the message must go out – fire kills’, and also because Mr Hussain had been given ‘so many warnings on so many occasions’. Andy Kelly, head of fire protection for NFRS, said: ‘We welcome


14 FEBRUARY 2019 www.frmjournal.com


and support the comments of Judge MacAdam. [NFRS] does and will always seek to work with and support business owners to make sure that they keep their premises, guests and employees safe. ‘However, staff, members of


the public and visitors using premises within Nottingham and Nottinghamshire should feel reassured that they can do so safely. We hope that sentences such as these confirm to the public that we do take fire safety matters very seriously, and that we are committed to creating safer communities for us all to enjoy.’


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