Newcastle care home owners fined for fire safety breaches

The owners and manager of Bowland Lodge care home in Newcastle has been fined more than £20,000 after admitting breaching a number of rules relating to fire safety in care homes.

The charges against Tirsul Ltd, the company which owns Bowland Lodge, were brought by Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service following a fire at the residential care home in 2009. During an investigation, fire safety officers uncovered a number of serious problems. These included:

  • Blocked fire exits, including one that was nailed, shut and padlocked
  • Failure to carry out a sufficient fire risk assessment
  • Inadequately maintained walls, ceilings and floors, in relation to stopping the fire from spreading
  • Unsafe external escape routes
  • Insufficient compartmentation to contain smoke

Most of these measures are included as part of basic fire awareness training, so the owners of the home should have been aware of them.

At Newcastle Magistrates Court last week, Tirsul Ltd was fined £18,750 for the breaches and ordered to pay costs of £1,600. Darren Boddy, group manager for the fire service, commented on the case, saying:

“In this case the breaches placed the residents, staff and visitors at Bowland Lodge in serious danger of death or injury in the event of a fire or other emergency, and we were left with no alternative but to pursue the matter in court.”