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Press Release - Somerset care home fined £100,000 for breaching fire safety regulations
Posted on 31/03/2017

A care home in Burnham-on-Sea has been fined £100,000 for breaching fire safety regulations at a house used for staff accommodation.

Almondsbury Care Ltd, of Berrow Road, Burnham-on-Sea, appeared at Taunton Magistrates Court on Thursday 30 March 2017 facing five offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The charges were brought by Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service after an inspection of a house which was being used by Almondsbury Care Ltd to provide sleeping and living accommodation for nurses and other agency staff that were working in the adjacent nursing home owned by the company.

The house consisted of three floors which were all in use at the time. As officers walked around the premises it soon became evident the fire safety provisions fell far below the appropriate standard for a premises being used in such a manner.

The inspection revealed a number of failings including:

• Failure to provide a sufficient fire detection and warning system
• A fire exit door which provided an alternative escape route could not be opened
• Inadequate protection to the means of escape due to the lack of fire resisting doors
• Cupboards on the means of escape being used for storage.

In summing up, the Judge stated that the premises had a whole range of failures that should have been “abundantly obvious to anyone who chose to think about it.”

The company failed to make a proper assessment and their own risk assessment clearly identified deficiencies which they ignored. The Judge went on to say the company had allowed, for its own gain, people to stay in a premises they knew placed people at risk of death or serious injury. The fire safety provisions fell far below the standard required resulting in a high risk of harm.

Business Safety Manager Paul Bray, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “It was extremely fortunate that a fire did not occur at these premises. Almondsbury Care Ltd would have been well aware of the need to implement suitable fire safety measures yet failed to ensure the safety of those working for their company.”

“The severity of the fines imposed by the court gives out a clear message to those who have control of a premises and show a disregard for the law and those they have a duty to protect.”

The Service’s Business Safety Officers will always work with and support those businesses that take their responsibilities seriously but will not tolerate those that put lives at risk.


Additional information

The list of offences was as follows:

Article 9 (1) Failure to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons were exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions needed to be taken in order to comply with the requirements imposed upon the responsible person by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

Article 13(1) Failure to ensure that the premises were, to an appropriate extent, equipped with sufficient fire detecting equipment and alarm sounders so as to comply with the requirements of BS5839 Part 1 2002 (as amended), Category LD2 or equivalent with regard to the adequacy of the fire alarm system at the premises

Article 14 (2) Failure to ensure that, in the event of danger, it was possible for persons to evacuate the premises as quickly and safely as possible by failing to ensure that:-

1. emergency doors were not locked or fastened so that they could easily and immediately be opened by any person who was required to use them in an emergency;
2.  there were sufficient emergency routes so as to allow relevant persons to evacuate the premises as quickly and safely as possible;
3. emergency routes and exits requiring illumination were provided with emergency lighting of adequate intensity in the case of failure of their normal lighting.

Article 15(1) Failure to establish and where necessary give effect to appropriate procedures, including safety drills, to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger to relevant persons and failed to nominate a sufficient number of competent persons to implement those procedures insofar as they related to the evacuation of relevant persons from the premises

Article 17(1) Failure to  ensure that the premises and any facilities, equipment or devices were subject to a suitable system of maintenance and were maintained in an effective state and effective working order and good repair, namely that:-
1.  the fire alarm was inoperative;
2.  the emergency lighting did not work.

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