A fire safety inspection prompted by a blaze causing major damage to a flat in St Annes, Lancashire has led to the prosecution of a man for 13 breaches of the Regulatory Reform Act.

The occupants of the flat were "fortunate to escape serious injury" and in the subsequent audits of Neal Gilligan's seven other properties it was found that there were:

1.Inadequate Fire Risk Assessments
2.Fire Alarms systems switched off or damaged
3.Fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, fire alarm systems and emergency lighting not being maintained in adequate condition
4.Obstructions and combustibles (including a motorcycle) on escape routes
5.Inadequate fire separation, meaning that a fire could have swept through the accommodation unchecked by fire doors or appropriate barriers

Enforcement notices were issued to all seven premises and were extended on two occasions but ultimately none were adequately complied with by the completion date while in two cases prohibition notices have also been issued to prevent use of the buildings until the dangerous conditions were significantly improved.

At the hearing last week [11 Oct] Mr Gilligan received a suspended 6-month prison sentence and a 6-month curfew (from 7-7) as well as being ordered pay£200 towards the costs of upgrading the properties, all of which he no longer owns.

Lancashire's Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dave Russel said: "The sentencing of Neal Gilligan marks the conclusion of a lengthy process that began with our efforts to impress upon the landlord what must be done to keep his tenants safe from fire.  He made no attempt to comply with the law and this led to the issue of several enforcement and prohibition notices, ultimately leading to the prosecution case we see the outcome of today."

"There is no satisfaction in seeing Mr Gilligan punished for his failure to make his premises safe, but we are glad that as a result of our actions the tragedy of what could so easily have been multiple fire deaths was prevented."

"The example this case sets should act as a powerful deterrent for anyone who supposes that ensuring fire safety in premises they are responsible is an option and not an obligation in law.  We will always support businesses and landlords who are willing to make premises safe from fire, but when it proves necessary to do so we will take action such as this through the courts."

Posted 14/10/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com