A landlord has been hit with a record fine following a "potentially lethal" flat fire which saw 13 people rescued.
Property owner Crownpark Investments Ltd along with City Estates were slapped with a mammoth £250,000 penalty in a fire safety prosecution case bought by the London Fire Brigade in relation to a single privately rented property in Westminster.
In addition to the fine, the brigade was awarded full prosecution costs of £49,500.
His Honour Judge Griffiths said the landlord and management company had been aware of the fire safety failings but reacted “ by putting their heads in the sand”, adding the building was an “accident waiting to happen.”
The owners of the six-floor terraced house converted into flats in Eccleston Square were sentenced after pleading guilty to three offences, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, on Thursday (May 25) at Southwark Crown Court.
Fire safety failings
Around 60 firefighters and eight fire engines were called to the blaze which ripped through two 19th century houses in the early hours of February 21, 2011.
The second, third and fourth floors were badly damaged.
Two people were rescued from the roof, four from the third floor and another seven were led to safety out of the property by fire crews.
Fire safety inspectors discovered numerous shortcomings which put tenants at risk of "death or serious injury" in the event of a fire, including:
•The doors to the individual flats provided inadequate protection to the escape route in the event of a fire .
• There was no fire alarm or fire detection system inside the flats or communal areas of the building.
• There was no fire risk assessment in place for the building.
'A strong message to other private landlords'
LFB assistant commissioner for fire safety, Dan Daly, said: “The landlord and management company showed utter contempt for the safety of their tenants when they so blatantly ignored the fire safety failures in the building.
"Hopefully the size of the fine handed down in this case will send a strong message to other private landlords who ignore their fire safety responsibilities in such a brazen way.
“This was a potentially lethal fire and it was only thanks to the skill and bravery of the crews who rescued the 17 residents trapped inside that nobody died or was seriously injured.
“The actions of the landlord and management company not only put the lives of the property’s occupants at risk they put the lives of those firefighters sent to tackle the blaze at risk .”
List of charges and penalties
The defendants were sentenced to a total fine of £250,000 and ordered to pay £49,500 in costs.
Crownpark Investments Ltd received a £100,000 fine and were ordered to pay £24,000 costs as follows:
Failing to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment - £80,000.
Failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection - £10,000.
Failing to ensure persons could evacuate the premises safely - £10,000.
City Estates received £150,000 fine and were ordered to pay £25,500 costs as follows:
Failing to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment - £120,000.
Failing to equip the premises with adequate fire detection - £15,000.
Failing to ensure persons could evacuate the premises safely - £15,000.
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