Property managers are reminded of the importance of fire safety duties after a firm of estate agents in Bexhill have been fined more than £28,000 and ordered to pay court costs in excess of £10,000 after being found guilty of breaching fire safety regulations in properties that they managed.

Trainmerit were convicted of fire safety breaches at two properties in Bexhill, which they had previously been warned to rectify.  Trainmerit trades at Maltby’s Estate Agents.

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) inspected the premises following a fatal fire in 2011.  They discovered inadequate fire protection, lack of separation of fire escape routes and fire alarms, as well as no emergency lighting.  During this fire, an occupant became trapped on the top floor and required rescued by firefighters.

It was understood by ESFRS that the agents had not taken any steps to improve fire safety at the properties for more than four years and due to this and that they had had a fatal fire, the ESFRS felt they had other choice than to prosecute the company.

In summary, the Magistrates commented that they had treated the offences with the utmost seriousness.

“East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service would like to remind all managing agents and others with responsibilities for property management, of their legal responsibilities to protect occupants against the risks from fire. The public should continue to be reassured that we take any breaches of fire safety very seriously, and especially so where the premises provides sleeping accommodation”.

Group Manager Richard Fowler, Head of Fire Safety at ESFRS

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment.