Fines and prosecutions Property agent sentenced for fire breaches


VINOD SINGLA, listed as the responsible person, was given a suspended prison sentence after his property was found to be a ‘death trap’. Leicestershire Fire and Rescue

Service (LFRS) reported on the prosecution of Mr Singla at the end of October at Leicester Crown Court, after he had pleaded guilty to 11 breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in relation to a property in Pocklingtons Walk. As the agent for the property, he managed eight residential flat dwellings within the site, with the top floor and basement let to students and families. He was the responsible person

for the site, and issues in relation to it first came to LFRS’ attention in April 2015, with LFRS stating that since then ‘a number of inspections and audits have been carried out’ that ‘highlighted significant deficiencies in fire safety measures’ as well as breaches of his duties as the responsible person. On 27 December 2016, the

property saw a fire in a cupboard situated in the communal area. Fire alarms failed to sound, while escape routes and emergency exits were ‘compromised’, so occupants of the upstairs flat had to escape via the roof of the neighbouring Magistrates Court. Firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus had to rescue eight students

from the roof, while other tenants were led to safety ‘from within’ the basement. Then, on 16 December 2017

another fire occurred in the upstairs meter cupboard, which had not been fitted with ‘appropriate’ fire resistant materials, so escape routes filled with smoke, and three tenants had to escape by climbing out of an upstairs window. The power was subsequently turned off, meaning there was no emergency lighting and no mains power to the fire alarms, but tenants were ‘permitted to remain’ by the landlord in the property. LFRS stated that there was a

‘clear public interest’ in bringing the prosecution, with Mr Singla having been warned ‘on numerous occasions’ by the service, but not taking ‘notice of the warnings’ or ‘appropriate measures to comply with fire safety regulations’. Breaches found at the premises ‘persisted for a significant period of time due to lack of action’, despite Mr Singla having ‘some considerable experience’. Judge Head sentenced Mr

Singla to an eight month prison sentence suspended for two years, alongside 240 hours of community service and a ten week curfew order. The judge referred to the property as a ‘death trap’, and described Mr Singla as ‘wholly

inadequate and unsuitable’ as a managing agent. Andy Daybell, station manager

for fire protection, commented: ‘The consequences [for] the occupants could have been devastating either because they did not have significant warning of a fire, or if they did they would be unable to escape. This is certainly a case where a landlord put profit before the safety of his residents. ‘As this case strongly illustrates, complying with fire safety legislation is not optional and courts take failures of fire safety seriously. Failure to ensure suitable fire safety arrangements can put people’s lives at risk, particularly in premises where they sleep and are therefore potentially even more vulnerable to fire.

‘I hope that this case shows that those people who have responsibilities to meet fire safety obligations, but fail to do so, face severe penalties. Where landlords fail in their duties to uphold fire safety legislation, and as in this case we find they are blatantly ignoring them, we will not hesitate to prosecute. ‘The outcome of this case has been achieved through the hard work, dedication and professionalism, over the last three and a half years, by more than 15 employees of Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service.’ FEBRUARY 2019 17

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