At a sentencing hearing at Inner London Crown Court last week Michael Carolan, the former leaseholder at The Good Intent in Walworth, admitted seven offences and was handed the 16-month suspended sentence after London Fire Brigade claimed the condition of the property was putting people’s lives at risk.
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.”
The Brigade warned other licensees that those neglecting responsibilities will face prosecution.
The Brigade was first alerted to fire safety at The Good Intent issues by Southwark Council in 2012, where they noted a host of potential hazards, 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
‘Putting lives at risk’
A second visit identified further fire safety breaches in the residential part of the building above the pub, which the Brigade believed to be ‘put the lives of those living there at risk’.
Fire safety officers then issued a prohibition notice preventing 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.
Orbell continued: “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.”
Carolan pleaded guilty to the following offences at a hearing under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005:
- Failure to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment – breach of Art 9 (1).
- Failure to provide an adequate system of fire detection and adequate firefighting equipment –breach of Art 13(1)(a)
- Failure to preserve the integrity of the means of escape – breach of Art 14(2)(b)
- 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)
- Failure to provide an emergency plan, evacuation strategy and implement any safety drills in respect of the premises – breach of Art 15(1)(a)
- Failure to appoint a competent person – breach of Art 18(1)
- Breach of a prohibition notice