London Fire Brigade says it hopes ‘lessons will be learned’ by housing providers after successfully prosecuting Southwark Council for fire safety failings found at a tower block in Camberwell.
The Brigade brought the prosecution after its fire safety inspectors visited the building following the tragic fire at Lakanal House on 3 July, 2009 in which six people, including three children, died.
The prosecution was not focused on the fire itself but on the risk posed to the building’s residents before 3 July 2009 as a result of the pre-existing fire safety deficiencies in the block.
On Tuesday (28 February) the council was given a £270,000 fine and ordered to pay £300,000 court costs after pleading guilty to four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire) Safety Order at Southwark Crown Court.
They found a number of structural and fire safety issues which showed that fire safety requirements were not being met, putting the lives of those living inside the block at risk of death or serious injury.
The main concerns raised by inspectors and which formed the basis of the four charges against Southwark were:
• Failure to make a fire assessment
• Allowing breaches of fire resistant structure between each maisonette staircase and the common internal doors
• Allowing fire loading and a lack of compartmentation in the false ceiling structure of internal corridors
• Failure to provide fitted strips and smoke seals on fire doors including flat front doors
London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly said: “The fire at Lakanal House was a particularly harrowing incident and our thoughts remain with the families and loved ones of those who died. Bringing this prosecution against Southwark Council has been about ensuring lessons are learned so we can reduce the likelihood of such a devastating fire ever happening again.
“All landlords, including large housing providers, such as councils and housing associations, have a clear responsibility under the law to ensure that their premises meet all fire safety requirements and are effectively maintained to provide protection in the event of a fire and keep their residents safe.
“We want them to take the opportunity provided by this court case to remind themselves of exactly what their fire safety responsibilities are under the law and to ensure that everyone in their premises is safe from the risk of fire.”