Property management company and risk assessor guilty of breaching fire safety laws
18 September 2023
A HARTLEPOOL-based property management company and its fire risk assessment provider have pleaded guilty to a number of offences relating to the provision of fire safety arrangements. Asset Property Management North East Ltd has been prosecuted following a fire within a flat at Tower Chambers on Tower Street in Hartlepool.
The fire occurred in the early hours on 2 February last year and resulted in a total of 17 people being evacuated from the premises, with five individuals having to be rescued by the Cleveland Fire Brigade (two of them by Fire Service ladder).
Asset Property Management North East Ltd pleaded guilty to a total of four offences including 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 a failure to maintain fire safety facilities provided (specifically the fire detection and warning system).
Total Safety Events Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment. At an earlier hearing, Justin Morgan had pleaded guilty to failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and failing to co-operate and co-ordinate his activities with other ‘Responsible Persons’.
Asset Property Management North East Ltd had contracted Total Safety Events Ltd to complete the fire risk assessment on its behalf. The latter then sub-contracted the work to Justin Morgan.
Sentencing will take place on 26 October at Teesside Crown Court.
Seriousness of the offences
Ian Hayton, chief fire officer at the Cleveland Fire Brigade, stated: “We welcome the outcome of the court case, which reflects the seriousness of the offences committed under current fire safety legislation.”
Hayton continued: “We always seek to work with business owners in the first instance in order to maintain fire safety standards within their premises. However, where individuals responsible for building fire safety completely disregard their duty and place people at risk, the Cleveland Fire Authority will not hesitate to use all of its powers and prosecute offenders where necessary.”
Further, Hayton stated: “We would like to remind all businesses that they have a duty to comply with current fire safety legislation and support is available from our dedicated team of fire safety officers. In bringing this case to a prosecution, it demonstrates how seriously we take our responsibilities to protect the lives of people within our community.”The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales. A ‘Responsible Person’ must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire management plan.