A landlord has been fined £135,000 and ordered to pay £23,000 costs for breaching fire safety regulations when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court on March 29, 2011.
Joseph Ernest Draper, the then owner of the premises at 9 Hillsborough Terrace Ilfracombe, pleaded guilty to four offences under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
On February 14, 2008 a fire occurred at the premises, which was sub-divided into flats up to four storeys high. The fire, which started on the ground floor, spread throughout the building, in total 13 persons escaped with some of them having to clamber over the roof to get away from the flames and smoke.
Following this incident, officers from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service carried out a fire safety audit of the premises. They found that the premises did not have adequate fire precautions for the type of use that it was being put to.
Area Manager Nick Manning, Community Safety Manager of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Landlords and owners of properties used as flats should take notice of the outcome of this case- it has sent a clear message with the level of the fine awarded.
"A building which has people living in self-contained flats with communal areas clearly counts as a house of multiple occupation in law and therefore has to have adequate fire precautions, which are maintained in a condition that ensures they will work when required.
"We always strive to work closely with businesses to help them with their duty to comply under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, but where their responsibilities are not taken seriously, and persons are put at risk of death or serious injury, the Service will consider prosecution. This case clearly demonstrates how our fire safety officers are applying the law to help ensure the safety of our community and helping to make Devon and Somerset safer."
Specific guidance on the standards of fire precautions required in this type of property can be found here:
Posted: 11.06am, 01.04.11