Managing agent fined £40,000 after women died in fire at block of flats in Tower Hamlets

Thursday, April 12th, 2018 - London Fire Brigade

A property managing agent has been ordered to pay £40,000 following the death of a woman at a fire at a block of flats on the Isle of Dogs.

Sophie Rosser, 23, died following the fire which broke out at Meridian Place, E14, at around 0130 on August 26, 2012. Miss Rosser, who lived on the fifth floor of the building with her partner and flat mate, was found unconscious on the fourth floor of the building.

Ms Rosser was found by fire crews wearing breathing apparatus who carried her from the building. She was then treated at the scene by London’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) before being taken to hospital where she sadly later died.

Parc Properties Management Ltd (PPML), the managing agent for Meridian Place Management Ltd, were sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Monday 19 March 2018, after pleading guilty to two offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) 2005.

Vance Miller, who completed a fire risk assessment for PPML at Meridian Place in 2008, also pleaded guilty to one offence under the RRO.

Lee Drawbridge, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, London Fire Brigade, said:

Building owners have a responsibility to ensure regular fire risk assessments are undertaken which will help ensure that buildings have appropriate fire protective measures in place.

There were serious fire safety breaches in this block of flats which resulted in the fire quickly spreading to other parts of the building.

While London Fire Brigade want to work with building owners to help them meet their safety responsibilities, where we find breaches of those responsibilities, we will do all we can to ensure the relevant agencies and individuals are prosecuted.

The Brigade’s fire safety team carried out an inspection of the building following the fire and found a number of serious fire safety failures. Breaches of the RRO included:

  • Failing to take general fire precautions to ensure the premises is safe
  • Failing to have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
  • Failure to monitor and review the preventive and protective measures
  • The building was not properly equipped with firefighting equipment nor was it correctly maintained
  • The fire detection system was not properly maintained

An enforcement notice was issued to the leasehold owners of the building and the managing agents for the fire safety failings.

PPML admitted at the first appearance at magistrates court to failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk and failing to maintain the fire alarm system and dry rising mains.

PPML was ordered to pay £40,000 in costs and a victim surcharge.

Vance Miller also admitted at the first appearance at magistrates court to failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risk, and was ordered to pay a fine of £2,000, £5,000 in costs and a victim surcharge.

More information about the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order is available on the London Fire Brigade website here.

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