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Company directors jailed for breaching fire safety regulations

13 February 2024

TWO COMPANY directors who placed residents’ lives at risk by breaching fire safety regulations have been sentenced. Carmen Lupu and Daniel Orasanu, directors of First Job Ltd, deliberately breached a Prohibition Notice served by fire safety inspecting officers from the West Midlands Fire Service.

As a direct result, some 80 people living in the four-storey Metro Court development located in West Bromwich High Street were at risk of death or serious injury.

Lupu and Orasanu, from Wombourne, fled the country in June 2018. Following a trial conducted in their absence, they were subsequently found guilty by a jury of nearly 30 breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

On 8 February at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Orasanu was sentenced to 34 months’ imprisonment and Lupu to 33 months. They were also ordered to pay full prosecution costs totalling £66,708.

Background to the trial

Back in November 2016, and following a referral from Sandwell Council, officers from the West Midlands Fire Service visited Metro Court, which was originally designed as an office block – and discovered multiple fire safety breaches as follows:

*there was no power to the fire alarm system, which was also faulty

*insufficient fire detection in the third floor corridor

*numerous fire doors were either wedged or propped open

*combustible materials were present in the staircase and obstructing the means of escape

*flat windows opening on to a staircase were not fire-resistant

The failures were so serious that a Prohibition Notice was served, thereby preventing anyone from using the premises for residential purposes. However, revisits over the following months revealed that people were still living there.

A subsequent Closure Order issued in August 2017 resulted in residents being moved to safety in an operation involving the West Midlands Fire Service, Sandwell Council and the police service.

Shocking case

Speaking in the wake of the sentencing hearing, area manager Lee Brathwaite, who serves as the West Midlands Fire Service’s head of protection, explained: “This was a shocking case. Many lives were put at risk because fire safety requirements and our Prohibition Notice were repeatedly and deliberately ignored.”

Brathwaite concluded: “We would much rather support and work with people who are responsible for fire safety. However, when necessary, we will not hesitate to use our powers and work with our partners to protect lives.”