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Large fine for UK care home
Published:  03 April, 2017

A care home in Burnham-on-Sea in the west of England has been fined £100,000 (US$125,000) for breaching fire safety regulations at a house used for staff accommodation.

Almondsbury Care, of Berrow Road, Burnham-on-Sea, appeared at Taunton Magistrates Court on Thursday 30 March 2017 facing five offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The charges were brought by Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service after an inspection of a house which was being used by Almondsbury Care to provide sleeping and living accommodation for nurses and other agency staff that were working in the adjacent nursing home owned by the company.

The house consisted of three floors which were all in use at the time. As officers walked around the premises it soon became evident the fire safety provisions fell far below the appropriate standard for a premises being used in such a manner.

The inspection revealed a number of failings including:

  • Failure to provide a sufficient fire detection and warning system
  • A fire exit door which provided an alternative escape route could not be opened
  • Inadequate protection to the means of escape due to the lack of fire resisting doors
  • Cupboards on the means of escape being used for storage.

In summing up, the Judge stated that the premises had a whole range of failures that should have been ‘abundantly obvious to anyone who chose to think about it.’

The company failed to make a proper assessment and their own risk assessment clearly identified deficiencies which they ignored. The Judge went on to say the company had allowed, for its own gain, people to stay in a premises they knew placed people at risk of death or serious injury. The fire safety provisions fell far below the standard required resulting in a high risk of harm.

Business Safety Manager Paul Bray, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: ‘It was extremely fortunate that a fire did not occur at these premises. Almondsbury Care Ltd would have been well aware of the need to implement suitable fire safety measures yet failed to ensure the safety of those working for their company.’

‘The severity of the fines imposed by the court gives out a clear message to those who have control of a premises and show a disregard for the law and those they have a duty to protect.’

The Service’s Business Safety Officers will always work with and support those businesses that take their responsibilities seriously but will not tolerate those that put lives at risk.