Published: 00:00, 22 October 2014
| Updated: 15:51, 22 October 2014
A managing agent has been fined £10,000 for flouting fire safety laws at a Margate property.
The landmark case saw residential property management agents Bridgeford & Co Ltd plead guilty to four fire safety management offences.
As well as the fine, the company was ordered to pay £16,500 in costs by Canterbury Magistrates Court yesterday.
The first successful prosecution of its kind by Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) came after a fire at the property in Cliftonville’s Ethelbert Terrace in April 2012.
Firefighters had to lead a man to safety from a top-floor flat in the four-storey building.
Due to the failure of the fire alarm system, KFRS fire safety officers carried out an investigation which revealed a number of deficiencies placing the residents of the building at significant risk from fire.
The investigation also found that the building did not have a fire risk assessment until almost three years after Bridgeford & Co Ltd took over its management.
Their arrangements for inspecting and maintaining the fire safety measures in the building were also found to be inadequate.
KFRS’s senior fire safety officer, John Robertson, said: “The outcome of today’s case sends out a very clear message to those responsible for managing residential property.
“They must have a risk assessment and make sure that the fire safety measures in their buildings are kept in good working order so people’s lives are not put at risk.
“This case clearly demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that all buildings in Kent are safe and that where necessary, we will take action and prosecute those who fail to provide adequate fire safety arrangements.”
“While we provide guidance and advice to help those responsible for building management to ensure their properties are safe and they meet their legal responsibilities, unfortunately we still find unsafe buildings and poorly maintained facilities.
“Good fire safety can be achieved by undertaking a Fire Risk Assessment and implementing any findings and recommendations it makes.”