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Landlord fined after flat blaze

Landlord fined after flat blaze

A Lancashire landlord who breached fire safety regulations has been fined £36,000 after a blaze broke out in his property.

Graham Sawings, 41, of Normoss Avenue, Blackpool, admitted 10 breaches of fire safety regulations. He was fined £36,300, and ordered to pay £7,000 costs and a £15 statutory surcharge at Preston Crown Court.

At least four people, including two children, were in the building in Clarence Street in Morecambe when a fire started after someone fell asleep while cooking in July last year.

The court heard that the fire alarm was not sounding in the flat, but others were alerted by the noise of a low beep.

The property became substantially filled with smoke and one person was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

Judge Pamela Badley told Sawings: “It is very fortunate indeed there wasn’t more severe injury, or even death occurring to people living in that property.
“Had that happened, how you would have lived with your conscience is a matter of conjecture”.

Stuart Mills, defending Sawings, said they were offences of omission, rather than commission. He said his client had never intentionally set out to hurt anyone.

Group Manager Tony Crook, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service’s northern area community protection manager said: “The omission of fire safety precautions had the potential to cause death or serious injury to nine people, including children, either living or visiting there when the fire occurred.”

Sawings admitted 10 breaches of fire safety regulations. These included having a faulty fire alarm, not regularly testing the system, providing no equipment to tackle fires, fire doors that did not close properly and having no fire evacuation plan in place.

The case serves as a stark reminder to landlords to adhere to fire safety regulations. The 2004 Housing Act requires landlords to provide escape routes and, depending on the size of the home, supply fire alarms and extinguishers.

The law also states that gas appliances must be checked by a Gas Safe engineer every year. Furniture and furnishings must meet fire resistance regulations and electrical installations and appliances should all be safe to use too.