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22 October 2014 - Landmark court case sees residential property management agent plead guilty to fire safety offences

Landmark court case sees residential property management agent plead guilty to fire safety offences

Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) is reminding managing agents to make sure that people living in the properties they manage are safe from the risk of fire after its first successful prosecution yesterday (Tuesday 21 October).

Bridgeford & Co. Limited were fined £10,000 and had costs of over £16,500 awarded against them for flouting fire safety laws after pleading guilty to four offences relating to fire safety management at Canterbury Magistrates Court.

KFRS were called to a fire in the four-storey property at Ethelbert Terrace in Cliftonville seafront in Margate just before 5am on 22 April 2012. Firefighters had to lead a man to safety from a top floor flat.

Due to the nature of the incident and the failure of the fire alarm system, KFRS fire safety officers carried out an investigation and looked at the fire safety management of the property. This revealed a number of deficiencies which were believed to have placed the residents of the flats in the building at significant risk from fire.

The investigation also found that in addition to failure of the fire alarm, the building did not have a fire risk assessment until almost three years after Bridgeford & Co. Ltd took over management of the building. Their arrangements for inspecting and maintaining the fire safety measures in the building were also found to be inadequate.

In sentencing, the magistrates fined the company £10,000 and ordered them to pay the KFRS’s costs of just over £16,500. In summing up the case, the Chairman of the magistrates asked for their thanks and appreciation to be passed onto the firefighters who dealt with the fire on 22 April 2012.

KFRS’s Senior Fire Safety Officer, John Robertson, said: “The outcome of today’s case sends out a very clear message to those responsible for managing residential property. They must have a risk assessment and make sure that the fire safety measures in their buildings are kept in good working order so people’s lives are not put at risk. This case clearly demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that all buildings in Kent are safe and that where necessary, we will take action and prosecute those who fail to provide adequate fire safety arrangements.”

John added: “Whilst we provide guidance and advice to help those responsible for building management to ensure their properties are safe and they meet their legal responsibilities, unfortunately we still find unsafe buildings and poorly maintained facilities. Good fire safety can be achieved by undertaking a Fire Risk Assessment and implementing any findings and recommendations it makes.”

You can find out more about how we can help you keep safe by contacting your local fire safety office or by contacting our Business Engagement Team at businessfiresafety@kent.fire-uk.org

Notes to Editor:

  • The penalties were awarded for a failure to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, Kent Fire and Rescue Service is the enforcing authority for this legislation within the County of Kent.
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