Owner of tragedy-hit care home accused of changing fire training advice

The owner of a care home in North Lanarkshire in which fourteen residents lost their lives in a tragic blaze six years ago has been accused of altering fire training procedures for staff.

Thomas Balmer, one of the owners of the fire-hit Rosepark Care Home in Uddingston, allegedly told staff to first check for false alarms when smoke detectors were triggered rather than phoning the emergency services straight away. This is contrary to a fire training video generally used by the home to train new staff, as well as advice from firefighters.

This is according to Gerry Coll, who is an advocate for NHS Lanarkshire. At a fatal accident inquiry at Hamilton Sheriff Court, Mr Coll spoke in defence of health board inspectors, saying:

“There is evidence that Mr Balmer countermanded the message of the video to call 999 immediately by instructing staff to check for a fire first. This was the procedure followed by staff, but was corrected by two firefighters. However, the procedure did not change in response to this.”
“The inspectors were robust and thorough in their investigations but cannot be held responsible for the running of the home under Mr Balmer.”

A verdict on the Rosepark Care Home inquiry is yet to be delivered.