Landlord gets huge fine for putting lives at risk

At the beginning of July Mohammed Javaid was found guilty of playing a risky game with his tenants’ lives. Of the 16 flats he owned six were considered to be uninhabitable due to the condition.

Mr Javaid chose to ignore the prohibition notice and not only allowed the tenants to remain, but moved additional people into empty flats and took absolutely no action to rectify the hazards.

These hazards included live electric cables right next to where people walked, no working lights in one basement area, missing fire alarms – which looked as though they had been removed leaving exposed cables dangling from the ceiling, missing fire doors and a lethal electric wiring system.

No fire risk assessment had been carried out, a proper alarm system was not in existence and the Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority were appalled at the state of the various premises.

Javaid pleaded guilty to 20 offences and Manchester Magistrates Court fined him £33,750 plus £8.5 thousand in costs. Probably, most of the work needed would have cost less.

This is exactly the kind of case that the authorities need to be chasing – and why we insist that our clients have risk assessments and fire risk assessments carried out regularly.

Thank goodness that action was taken before lives were lost.

Essential equipment for fire safety?

In my day the Fire Brigade were there to support, educate and befriend businesses and homes and help them to get fire safety right so that lives were protected. These days they seem to have a new piece of equipment – a metaphorical sledgehammer for cracking ‘nuts’.

I keep coming across situations where the fire authorities and the local authorities approach is oppressive and, worse, inconsistent. This is particularly true where there is dual enforcement.
We have several clients in the social housing business who are struggling with the level of enforcement. The Fire Authority seems to be using today’s legislation – which is not retrospective – to force landlords to bring their buildings into line. In fact, some fire strategies could be removed rather than upgraded – they’ve just been overprovided.

Poor advice and this sledgehammer approach to enforcement is costing businesses time, effort, money and resulting in unnecessary enforcement notices, prohibition notices and a lot of stress and worry that could be avoided.

The government is creating legislation and the enforcement authorities are interpreting this as a licence to crack nuts. It’s not good for business and, in the long run, it’s not good for the economy – I know of at least one business that the owner closed, simply because the oppressive enforcement made him ill.

Change is needed; positive change that uses a common sense approach to risk and safety. Are you ready to help us make it happen?

6 tips on Fire safety

Fire is a killer and nobody wants to think about being in a building where a fire breaks out. However, it’s virtually impossible to eradicate fire risk, the secret is to be able to control the fire if it happens. Here are six steps to creating the best possible protection from fire risk.

1. Ensure your fire risk assessor has appropriate experience as well as the relevant qualification – passing an exam is no substitute for knowing what you’re looking at!

2. Look at the people likely to be affected by fire safety arrangements e.g. public, visitors, disabled, etc – and consider how they will act and react in case of fire.

3. Understand the main causes of fire and assess your workplace to each for them. e.g. electricity, arson, cooking, hazardous substances, etc.

4. The simplest way to prevent a fire is to keep anything that will burn away from anything that will ignite it. Obvious, but not always considered.

5. In the event of a fire there must be systems for warning, means of escape and contingency plans that cover the ‘what ifs’.

6. Fire safety management is to prevent it, detect it, contain it, suppress it, investigate it, mitigate the outcomes and educate all the relevant people in all aspects of these processes.

Keep yourself and your employees’ safe – and don’t take the risks you don’t need to.