Fire safety failures

Fire safety failures resulted in a corporate landlord and its management company being handed a large fine. They both failed to carry out a fire risk assessment for an apartment building, which was destroyed after a fire broke out.

Property owner Crownpark Investments, along with City Estates (who managed the six-floor terraced house conversion in Pimlico) pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The fire broke out during the early hours of 21 February 2011, and 8 fire engines and about 60 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze. The fire damaged the second, third and fourth floors, and thirteen people had to be rescued.

Inspectors from the London Fire Brigade discovered several fire safety failings. These included a lack of fire alarm or detection system inside the flats and the communal areas, and no fire risk assessment in place for the building. They also found that the doors to the individual flats provided inadequate protection to the escape route in the event of a fire.

Judge Griffiths sentenced the companies on 25 May. He said both defendants had been aware of the fire safety failings within the property but reacted “by putting their heads in the sand”, and described the building as an “accident waiting to happen”.

City Estates was fined:

  • £120,000 for not carrying out a fire risk assessment
  • £15,000 for failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection, and
  • £15,000 for failing to ensure persons could evacuate the building safely

Similarly, Crownpark Investments was fined:

  • £80,000 for not carrying out a fire risk assessment
  • £10,000 for failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection, and
  • £10,000 for failing to ensure persons could evacuate the building safely

These fines constitute the largest financial penalty handed down in a fire safety prosecution case brought by the London Fire Brigade relating to a single privately rented property. London Fire Brigade was awarded full prosecution costs of £49,500.

Following the case, London Fire Brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly said:

The landlord and management company showed utter contempt for the safety of their tenants when they so blatantly ignored the fire safety failures in the building. Hopefully, the size of the fine handed down in this case will send a strong message to other private landlords who ignore their fire safety responsibilities in such a brazen way.