The owner of a care home has been sentenced after admitting fire safety failures following a devastating fire.
The cause of the fire was found to be from an electrical fault, which quickly spread to the roof. At the time, 35 elderly residents were in the home; 30 were not independently mobile and five were over 100 years old. During its response, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) rescued 33 residents but two died as a result of the fire.
Residents at risk
Newgrange of Cheshunt Ltd pleaded guilty to five charges of breaking fire safety legislation. Each offence involved an admission that the company had breached its duty imposed by fire safety law and that the breaches were such that they put residents at risk of death or serious harm.
The company was fined £175,000 and will also have to pay prosecution costs.
In sentencing, the judge took into account the guilty plea and a good previous health and safety record. However, he pointed out there had been a “complete failure to consider or concentrate” on resident safety “as opposed to the safety of employees”.
HFRS’s Chief Fire Officer said: “This incident highlights the need for all business owners to ensure they fully comply with fire safety legislation. If enough competent staff had been present and properly trained to carry out long-established and recognised guidance on evacuations in a care home, I am sure that a full evacuation would have been started long before our arrival”.
He added: “Evacuation of a care home is a difficult task and needs to be properly considered and practised so that everyone can escape unharmed. We continue to advocate the fitting of sprinkler or other fire suppression systems, particularly to any building where the occupants suffer from mobility issues”.
The tragedy highlights the importance of robust fire safety practices and evacuation procedures. It is always a good idea to seek professional support from a Health & Safety Consultant to reduce risk and ensure that you are compliant with fire safety legislation.
Chief Fire Officer, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service