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February 7, 2022

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In Court

Holiday apartments owner fined for serious fire safety breaches

Holiday apartments owner, Philip Hunt, and his company Au Bord De La Mer, have been ordered to pay a £12,800 fine for failing to put in place suitable fire safety measures in one of its properties.

Image:8 Beacon Terrace, Torquay, via. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service

Following a fire at Beacon Terrace, Torquay, consisting of separate flats leased out to tenants by Philip Hunt’s company, Au Bord De La Mer, inspectors identified a number of serious fire safety failings under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

On 9 March 2020, firefighters were called to a blaze at 8 Beacon Terrace. Firefighters discovered that smoke and debris from the fire had entered the stairway and, due to the door to the flat not being fitted with any type of self-closing device, was spreading rapidly. The crew dealt with a fire in the kitchen of the property and helped one occupant escape.

Following a thorough investigation, the fire service identified that:

  • There was no fire risk assessment for the premises
  • There had never been any proper maintenance of the fire alarm or emergency lighting system
  • The fire alarm had been switched off and did not work when there was a fire – it was also the wrong type of fire alarm fitted with inadequate coverage
  • None of the flat entrance doors had necessary self-closer fitted
  • The responsible person for the premises did attempt to put a management company in place but due to money issues did not do so and left all matters unattended.

In November 2021, Au Bord De La Mer and Philip Hunt were charged with serious fire safety breaches and pleaded guilty to a total of 11 charges.

The case was heard at Plymouth Crown Court on 24 January 2022.

Head of Protection Delivery at Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Services, Group Manager, Pete Smith, says: “Mr Philip Hunt showed a disregard of fire safety measures and therefore, a disregard for the safety of his leaseholders. Failings in fire safety measures also pose heightened risk to firefighters who are already doing a dangerous job.”

He continues: “I cannot emphasise enough the importance of carrying out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and having the appropriate fire safety measures in place. It is extremely fortunate that the fire occurred during the day when most of the occupants were out. Had the fire started at a time when people were asleep, the outcome could have been very different.

Mr Hunt and Au Bord De La Mer were ordered to pay a fine of £12,800, and £10,000 in legal costs to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

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