London Fire Brigade

Leaseholder of ‘fire trap’ pub receives 16 month suspended sentence

29 January 2016

The former leaseholder of a Walworth public house has received a 16 month suspended prison sentence for breaking fire safety laws following a successful prosecution by London Fire Brigade.

At a sentencing hearing at Inner London Crown Court on Monday (25  January), Michael Carolan, of Nunhead admitted seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including breaching a prohibition notice preventing the premises from being used for sleeping and living accommodation

The Brigade was alerted by Southwark Council in January 2012 to fire safety issues at The Good Intent public house on East Street, SE17. 

The premises, made up of a traditional pub on the ground floor and  residential accommodation on the upper floors, was visited by our fire safety officers in February and March 2012.

Following the two visits, they highlighted a number of fire safety concerns including:

  • Inadequate fire detection  and smoke alarms
  • Inadequate firefighting equipment
  • Inadequate fire instruction notices
  • Inadequate emergency lighting
  • Absence of fire doors 
  • Trip hazards in the building’s escape routes
  • Combustible material stored in escape routes
  • Evidence that an emergency door was being kept locked
  • No viable escape route from the upper floors 
  • Overloaded electrical sockets 
  • Poor fire safety management and evidence of smoking in the premises
  • No fire risk assessment for the premises had been carried out

After the second visit identified further fire safety breaches throughout the residential part of the building which they believed put the lives of those living there at risk, our fire safety officers issued a prohibition notice preventing those upper floors from being used for sleeping and living accommodation.

A follow up inspection by the Brigade found while other residents were no longer living in the pub's upper floors the pub manager  and one other person were still there.

'Potential fire trap'

London Fire Brigade's Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Neil Orbell, said: "This public house was a potential fire trap and I have no doubt that if a blaze had broken out, its occupants would have been put at serious risk.

"Those responsible for buildings have a clear legal responsibility to ensure the people living and working there are safe from fire.

"In this case, not only were those responsibilities being flouted before we visited the premises, the leaseholder continued to ignore them even after we had carried out our safety inspection.

"Landlords, leaseholders and building owners should be warned that we will always prosecute if we find they are putting people's lives at risk."

Mr Carolan pleaded guilty to the following offences at an earlier hearing under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005:

  1. Failure to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment – breach of Art 9 (1).
  2. Failure to provide an adequate system of fire detection and adequate fire fighting equipment –breach of Art 13(1)(a)
  3. Failure to preserve the integrity of the means of escape – breach of Art 14(2)(b)
  4. Failure to ensure that the door along the means of escape could easily and immediately be opened in an emergency – breach of Art 14(2)(f)
  5. Failure to provide an emergency plan, evacuation strategy and implement any safety drills in respect of the premises – breach of Art 15(1)(a)
  6. Failure to appoint a competent person – breach of Art 18(1)
  7. Breach of a prohibition notice