London Fire Brigade

Care home company ordered to pay £30,000 fire safety fine after blaze

04 November 2016

A care home company has been hit with fines and costs totalling £42,966 for breaking fire safety laws following a blaze at a residential care home in Penge, which left an elderly woman seriously injured.

GCH (Burrow House) Ltd, which runs Burrows House care home on Derwent Road, was sentenced for three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Croydon Crown Court on Thursday following the successful prosecution by the Brigade.

Care home company admits fire safety failings

At an earlier hearing the company had pleaded guilty to not having a fire risk assessment, blocking a fire escape route with combustible materials and wedging fire doors open, and failing to keep firefighting equipment in working order.

The fire, which broke out on the evening of 14 October 2013, was caused after an electrically operated armchair left in a corridor caught alight.

Although the fire was contained to a first floor wing of the home, one resident, who was rescued by fire crews, was taken to hospital suffering from severe smoke inhalation.

Put on a life support machine, she spent more than a month in hospital before being released. Two other residents were taken to hospital following the fire and a number of others were treated at the scene.

Following the fire, the Brigade's fire safety inspecting officers visited the care home and raised a number of concerns.

One of the most serious being the failure to keep the corridor clear of combustible materials such as furniture.

According to Brigade inspectors, this had prevented the corridor being used as an escape route, resulting in the serious injury of one of the residents and putting the lives of other residents at risk.

Fire risk 'totally unacceptable'

London Fire Brigade's Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Dan Daly, said : "This was a very serious fire which nearly saw someone lose their life.

"Protecting London's most vulnerable residents is our priority.

"Families entrust the care of their loved ones to places such as this, and to find people being put at risk from fires in places where they should be safe in this way is totally unacceptable.

"Building owners and care home managers have a clear responsibility under fire safety laws to ensure that people living in their premises are safe from the risk of fire.

"If we find people are ignoring those responsibilities, we won't hesitate to prosecute.

"The fine handed down in this case should serve as a stark warning that the courts take these matters just as seriously as we do."

Ten fires a week in care homes and sheltered accommodation

The Brigade attends around ten fires a week in housing where care is provided and is campaigning for better fire safety in care homes and sheltered accommodation.

Assistant Commissioner Daly added: "People living in sheltered accommodation and extra care facilities are often very vulnerable to fire.

"They may have limited mobility, or a disability, which makes it difficult for them to notice a fire and react quickly.

"That’s why it is so important care providers and care home owners take their fire safety responsibilities seriously and why we are working with them to improve fire safety where needed."

GCH (Burrow House) Ltd, were fined £10,000 for each offence under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and ordered to pay the Brigade full court costs of £12,966 - a total of £42,966.