The landlord of a house where two people had to be rescued from an early morning blaze has been given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay over £35,000 in fine and costs after breaking fire safety regulations.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus had to wake one man while another of the four tenants was snatched to safety from a window as a ‘severe fire’ swept the first floor of the address in Messenger Road, Smethwick at 3.40am, a judge heard.
Fortunately nobody was killed or seriously injured but a subsequent survey revealed woefully inadequate fire safety precautions at the property, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.
Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting on behalf of West Midland Fire Service, found the following fire safety failures that had put the lives of his tenants at risk:
- Missing or ineffective fire doors
- No emergency lighting on first floor
- Only two domestic smoke alarms which were not maintained and only tested once a year
- No signage showing the escape route in the event of a fire
- No fire resistant glazing
Mr Jackson declared: “There was significant risk of death or serious injury as a result of these failures some of which were nothing more than common sense measures. These were not isolated breaches.”
A prohibition order was slapped on the property banning its use by tenants until fire safety had been brought up to scratch.
The 77-year-owner of the property which was made up of living quarters over a shop, borrowed £20,000 and complied with all the fire service’s demands while also employing a letting agent.
The prosecutor continued: “The work was done to a high standard and the prohibition ordered was removed after all the faults had been corrected satisfactorily. It appears he had been unaware of the fire regulations.”
Mr Richard Atkins QC, defending, said: “I accept this is a serious matter, especially after the terrible events at Grenfell Tower but he co-operated and did not try to point the finger of blame at anybody else.
“He had neither ignored earlier warnings nor put profit before safety. He fell foul of the law through ignorance.”
The former foundry worker purchased the shop in 1981, started living above it with his wife two years later and remained there until 2000. The shop has been leased to others since 1996.
The landlord admitted six breaches of fire safety regulations and received a four-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months.
He was also ordered to pay a £25,000 fine with £10,130 costs inside a year or face a further 12 months imprisonment in default.
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Original Source: Express & Star