COMPANY that runs a residential care home in Cheshire has been fined £40,000
and ordered to pay £13,626 in costs after admitting serious breaches of fire
Lavender House Residential Home Ltd pleaded guilty
to eight breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at its home
for elderly residents and dementia sufferers on Audley Road in Alsager.
Sentencing took place at a crown court on Monday 10
December after a fire safety audit was completed at the residential care home
on 1 August 2016.
Conducted by members of Cheshire Fire and Rescue
Service’s protection team, the audit revealed deficiencies that put the
vulnerable residents, visitors and staff members at risk of death or serious
injury in the event of a fire.
They included substantial breaches of
compartmentation between the ground floor and the first floor where the
residents slept, including areas where ceilings had been torn away and left floorboards
above exposed, unprotected pipe penetrations through walls and floors and the
underside of a staircase being exposed and not protected from fire.
Concerned that a fire could easily and quickly
spread throughout the building, the team issued Lavender House Residential Home
Ltd with a prohibition notice, an enforcement notice and began a prosecution
The prohibition notice, which banned parts of the
premises from being used, was lifted within a week after the company
commissioned work to be carried out to rectify the most serious safety flaws.
The enforcement notice was lifted later in November
2016 after other required fire safety measures were implemented.
During sentencing at Chester Crown Court, the judge
noted that the company had remedied the substantial breaches but also
acknowledged that it took Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s intervention for
action to be taken.
Judge Berkson said that before August 2016 the
company had paid little attention to fire safety and that this matter of great
importance was low down on its list of priorities.
The residential care home in Alsager provides
accommodation for people over the age of 65 who require nursing, personal or
Lee Shears, Head of Protection and Organisational
Performance at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS), added: “The safety of
people living, visiting and working in all premises such as this is of
“Establishments where people sleep and may need
assistance to get out in the event of a fire are especially significant and
fire safety must be treated as a priority.
“In the case of Lavender House Residential Home
Ltd, a lack of fire safety precautions were putting the lives of elderly and
vulnerable residents at risk.
“Large sections of ceilings had been torn away and
there was extensive damage to walls and ceilings throughout the building. As a
result fire and toxic smoke would have been able to spread rapidly through the
building and into bedrooms.
“Staircases were not protected from fire, residents
were expected to use a rope ladder as an escape route from the upper floors and
there were also significant issues in relation to inadequate fire alarms,
evacuation procedures and fire risk assessments.
“We immediately took action against the company to
remedy the unacceptable safety flaws that were uncovered during a fire safety
“The company carried out the necessary work and
implemented the necessary procedures in a brisk fashion to the benefit of its
residents, staff and visitors and it has now been fined for the fire safety
breaches that were identified and rectified in 2016.”
CFRS aims to help and support any business to
operate safely. However action will be taken when companies choose not to treat
fire safety as a legitimate and important business requirement.
All companies are urged to take their fire safety
obligations seriously to avoid prosecution.