Care home prosecuted after corridor fire

A Lancashire care home has been fined £35,000 after breaching fire safety law which included placing a Christmas grotto on the main exit route.

D M Care Limited – the owner of the Ambassador Care Home in Blackpool – pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 on 19 March at Fleetwood Magistrates Court. The company was fined £5,000 for each offence and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £5,375.

The prosecution followed an early morning fire at the care home on 6 January 2012. Six fire engines and a mobile fire station attended the scene and firefighters rescued three residents who had slight injuries and were treated by paramedics at the scene.

Damage was done to the lighting unit in the corridor (the cause of the fire was a faulty light fitting), a square metre of carpet, and a metre length of timber ceiling joist. There was also severe smoke damage to the corridor and to a ground-floor bedroom, and light smoke damage to three other ground-floor bedrooms.

Breaches of fire safety law included failure to provide a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment; failure to establish a suitable fire evacuation strategy; failure to provide adequate staff training; blocked exit routes including the placing of a ‘Santa’s grotto’ on the main exit route; and failure to provide adequate fire detection.

Paul Ratcliffe, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s protection support officer, said: ‘The sentencing of DM Care is the culmination of a fire safety inspection in the aftermath of a fire which disclosed significant breaches of fire safety regulations that the prosecuting magistrate said could so easily have resulted in the loss of life.

‘The substantial total of fines with costs of £40,375 is the highest amount we have seen imposed in cases such as this in Lancashire, and must surely stand as a powerful deterrent for anyone who might suppose that ensuring fire safety in premises they are responsible for is an option and not an obligation in law.