Fire safety consultant given prison sentence after 'insufficient risk assessment'

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A company director has been served a suspended prison sentence for failing to provide a suitable or sufficient fire risk assessment of a Southampton residential block.

Southampton Crown Court heard that Mr Charles Morgan, the director of UK Fire Consulting Ltd, had not lifted ceiling tiles or even opened riser cupboard doors to check for fire safety risks at Cranleigh House, a three-storey block of fully occupied flats.

An inspector from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety discovered electrical wiring penetrating the compartment walls.

Certain buildings can have large void spaces, where a fire can go unnoticed for an extended time. At Cranleigh House there was no fire stopping added to holes in the walls, meaning that smoke or fire could travel to other parts of the building.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Steve Apter said: “Fire risk assessments underpin the whole process of building fire safety. Mr Morgan failed to inspect and identify fire safety deficiencies within the building and failed to note a compromised alarm and evacuation strategy for the residents.”

He said this put occupants at risk of death or serious injury.

Mr Morgan was served a £2,750 fine and a three-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months. His company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £19,952.

The managing agent for the premises, Denfords Property Management had already pleaded guilty to a failure to comply with an enforcement notice to provide a suitable fire risk assessment. They were fined £10,000 with £6,000 costs.

His Honour, Judge Burrell QC said: “The job of a fire risk assessor is a highly responsible one. Lives are in their hands and their judgement is crucial. It is not a job to be taken lightly.

“It is important to hold risk assessors to account and these are serious breaches.”


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