Yesterday (7 October 2015) at Harrogate Magistrates Court, Mr Michael Hassall, Landlord of 20 Scargill Road, Harrogate pleaded guilty to two offences of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, namely a failure to take general fire precautions and carry out a suitable and sufficient Fire Risk Assessment of the property.
Mr Hassall was fined a total of £8205.74, which included prosecution costs of £2085.74 and £120 victim surcharge.
The property (20 Scargill Road Harrogate) is a mid-terraced house which had a number of bedrooms let out to separate tenants.
In the early hours of the morning of the 24 August 2014, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service attended a serious fire at the property. The fire had started in a ground floor bedroom, quickly spreading to the hallway and forcing one tenant to make his escape from an upstairs window. Another tenant also managed to escape.
Investigators found that there were no fire detectors fitted within the premises and that doors, fitted to rooms, were not to the required standard.
Both tenants were extremely lucky to escape unharmed, given they had no warning of the fire. Two neighbours who attempted to put the fire out were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation
During sentencing the Magistrates said:
Even though there was confusion around whether the premises was a House in multiple Occupation (HMO), the defendant still had a duty of care and responsibility for the safety of tenants in that property.
Ms Karen Galloway prosecuting solicitor for the Fire Authority stated that:
This was an extremely serious case for which the Fire and Rescue Authority had to prosecute the person responsible for safety within the building. Those living at the address were placed at risk of death or serious injury owing to the inadequate fire safety measures in place. There is no doubt that had the Fire Authority not taken action the serious contraventions in this case would have continued unchecked.
Station Manager Richard Hanley said:
It is disappointing that the Authority has had to prosecute yet another landlord who has put his tenants at risk of death or serious injury from fire.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will continue to work with other enforcement agencies in an attempt to improve safety standards Many of the premises that we visit are well-managed and are conscientious about fire safety matters. However, some of the buildings which are brought to our attention because of fire incidents or complaints turn out to present serious fire safety concerns which endanger those living at, working or visiting the premises.
Fire safety officers will always try to work with businesses and business owners to ensure they are compliant or can achieve compliance with the requirements of the legislation and do so within an acceptable time scale. This conviction shows how seriously the Fire Authority and the Courts view those who put the safety of others at risk in the event of a fire.