Property management company and fire risk assessors sentenced
30 October 2023
IN THE wake of a fire that took hold within a flat at Tower Chambers on Tower Street in Hartlepool back in 2021 and the successful prosecution of Asset Property Management North East Ltd, Total Safety Events Ltd and Justin Morgan at Teesside Crown Court on 11 September this year, the sentencing process has now been concluded.
On 26 October, Asset Property Management North East Ltd received a £25,000 fine. Total Safety Events Ltd was fined £10,000 and Justin Morgan has been handed a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, with 120 hours of unpaid work.
Full costs were awarded to the Cleveland Fire Authority to the tune of £29,782.91.
The fire occurred in the early hours of 2 February 2021 and resulted in a total of 17 people being evacuated from the premises (five of them being rescued by firefighters from the Cleveland Fire Brigade, two of whom were rescued thanks to the Fire and Rescue 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 failing to maintain fire safety facilities provided (specifically, the fire detection and warning system).
Along with Asset Property Management North East Ltd, 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.
Seriousness of the offences
Cleveland Fire Authority has welcomed the outcome of a case based around the failure to comply with fire safety legislation outlined in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Ian Hayton, Chief Fire Officer at the Cleveland Fire Brigade, stated: “We welcome the outcome of this case, which reflects the seriousness of the offences committed under current fire safety legislation. 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, the Cleveland Fire Authority will not hesitate to use all of its powers in prosecuting offenders where necessary.”
Hayton added: “We would like to remind all businesses that they have a duty to comply with fire safety legislation. Support is available from our dedicated team of fire safety officers. Bringing this case to the prosecution stage demonstrates how seriously we take our responsibilities in terms of protecting the lives of individuals 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.