The owners of a Shoreham care home which put vulnerable residents in danger by failing to take proper fire safety precautions have been fined £18,000 plus costs.
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).
The court was told that the two-storey home, with 46 residents, had a minor kitchen fire in April 2014 after which the chef reported to managers that fire systems, including an audible alarm and the automatic shutting of fire doors, had not activated.
Repair work to the fire alarm system, which should have been carried out immediately, did not take place.
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. 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 court heard that, as well as the failings identified with the fire safety systems, fire officers also found other areas of concern, including an electrical intake room being used as an office and storing combustible materials, along with overloaded and poorly maintained wall sockets and draping cables.
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.
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is at the heart of West Sussex County Council’s Communities and Public Protection Directorate, working to support communities to become safer, stronger and more resilient through a combination of prevention, protection and response activities.