Fire death care home ‘had been warned’ about failings
LONDON FIRE Brigade (LFB) reported that the Lee Valley Care Services home in Wembley had ‘already been warned’ about fire safety failings before a resident died in March 2016.
In a report on its website, LFB stated that the home – based in a converted house – is home to up to seven vulnerable adults, with LFB fire safety inspectors checking the premises in November 2015 having expressed concerns over fire doors, fire safety management and the lack of a proper fire risk assessment (FRA). As a result, a notice of fire safety deficiencies was issued, with managers given until May 2016 to ‘address the issues’.
However, during the notice period and in March 2016, resident Terence Roberts died after a fire in his room. After the fire, LFB fire safety officers undertook another audit of the home, and found ‘no evidence’ that it had been ‘working on addressing the issues’ ahead of the LFB deadline. In turn, the officers discovered cigarette litter and burns to furniture in the home, with Mr Roberts discovered to have been smoking in his room before the fire.
At Westminster Magistrates Court, it was reported that Mr Roberts was discovered in his ‘smoke-filled’ bedroom by care home staff, and he died six weeks later in hospital. The home pleaded guilty to four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including failing to make a ‘suitable and sufficient’ FRA and failing to update the FRA ‘in light of a change of circumstances when smoking habits of a resident changed’.
The other two offences included failing to monitor and review fire safety arrangements, and a failure to follow emergency procedures ‘in the event of danger’. As a consequence, the home was fined just over £57,000. Dan Daly, LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, stated: ‘It is a terrible tragedy that vital fire safety warnings were not addressed more quickly in this case. Our thoughts remain with the family of Terence Roberts.
‘Smoking is one of the top causes of fatal fires among people who receive care and it’s vital that care homes and their staff can spot the danger signs associated with smoking, follow vital precautions to ensure vulnerable people are kept safe and detail how they have addressed the specific risks to residents in their Fire Risk Assessment.
‘We’re pleased to see this care home has radically improved its fire safety record in inspections following the incident involving Mr Roberts. The premises now exceeds industry standards, having installed sprinklers.’