Former Care Home Owner Admits Fire Safety Breach

Richard Dickinson, who lives in Runcorn, admitted three counts of breaching a fire safety order before Chester Crown Court in December. An investigation into the Rangermore care home revealed major shortfalls in fire safety which led to this prosecution, according to the Knutsford Guardian.

Six pensioners in the Knutsford care home were trapped in a serious blaze and had to be rescued from the first floor of the care home in October 2010.

Keith Brooks, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s (CFRS) head of community fire protection, said: “The fire at Rangemore care home could, without doubt, have ended in tragedy if it had not been for the actions of the fire crews who attended that night. We welcome the sentence handed out by the court as this was a serious breach of fire safety regulations which are designed to prevent this kind of event and protect life,” he added.

Mr Brooks added that the CFRS was available to support businesses in their quest to operate safely, but would take action when fire safety was neglected. CFRS regularly carries out inspections to ensure that businesses comply with the necessary fire safety regulations. 

Mr Dickinson was sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. He will also have to pay nearly £70,000 in fines.

He had his registration cancelled in March 2012 after inspectors found the home did not meet nine of the essential standards residents were legally entitled to expect.

The case was heard by Judge Elgan Edwards, who stressed the importance of care home owners and managers having the necessary fire safety procedures in place.

“People who run these establishments must ensure that they scrupulously adhere to fire safety regulations in an establishment with vulnerable people,” he added.

He praised the the fire service's actions in this situation, commending them for averting a potential "major tragedy".

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Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a 'suitable and sufficient' fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

Source: FIA

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