Shoreham care home owners fined for ‘risking residents’ safety’

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The owners of a Shoreham care home have been fined £18,000 for failing to take proper fire safety precautions, which ‘put vulnerable residents in danger’, said a spokesperson from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.

Orchard Care, owners of Cavell House in Shoreham, admitted fire safety breaches at an earlier hearing at Worthing Magistrates Court and were sentenced at Chichester Crown Court on Friday (March 10), according to the spokesperson.

The court was told that the two-storey home, with 46 residents, had a minor kitchen fire in April 2014, the spokesperson said.

Afterwards, the chef reported to managers that fire systems, including an audible alarm and the automatic shutting of fire doors, had not activated, said the spokesperson.

Repair work to the fire alarm system, which should have been carried out immediately, did not take place, the spokesperson said.

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service was not informed of the minor kitchen fire in April but carried out a routine inspection on 22 July 2014, confirmed the spokesperson.

Officers were so worried about the problems they identified they insisted some urgent interim measures had to be put in place that day before officers would leave, the spokesperson said.

The court heard that, as well as the failings identified with the fire safety systems, fire officers also found other areas of concern.

These included an electrical intake room being used as an office and storing combustible materials, along with overloaded and poorly maintained wall sockets and draping cables, according to the spokesperson.

Welcoming the sentence, WSFRS Head of Business Fire Safety, Paul Fuller, said: “We would always prefer to work with businesses to support them, rather than resorting to court action like that taken here. 
“However, businesses must comply with their legal fire safety responsibilities and, when they disregard the safety of vulnerable people, as was uncovered at this property, we have no option but to prosecute them.”

The home owners were also ordered to pay £4,000 prosecution costs, the spokesperson added.

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