Care homeFIRE safety failures at a Paignton care home put the lives of residents at risk, a court has heard according to Torquay Herald.

St Andrew’s Lodge was in such a bad state of repair that a locksmith working on an exit door put his foot through the stairwell and almost fell three storeys through the collapsing landing, magistrates heard.

John Davis, 68, the owner and responsible person for the premises on St Andrew’s Road pleaded guilty to four charges of breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (The Fire Safety Order) at Torquay Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday.

He was fined a total £19,500 and ordered to pay full costs to the fire authority of £5,497.

Magistrates said the offences were ‘very, very serious offences’.

Davis, of Mead Road, Torquay, was responsible for the care of some of the most vulnerable members of society, they said.

The failures occurred over a long period of time and the potential for loss of life at the premises was a very real risk.

A spokesman for the fire service said: “Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service officers attended the premises on July 22, 2014, after receiving a complaint from a locksmith that had been working at the premises.

“The locksmith had been working on an exit door that opened onto the external fire escape staircase.

“When he put his foot out onto the staircase, the landing section collapsed and fell away.

“The locksmith only stopped himself falling three floors by grabbing inside the door frame. DSFRS officer had no choice but to serve a Prohibition Notice on the premises restricting certain areas from use due to the dangerous conditions found at the premises.”

When fire officers inspected the premises they found a number of serious fire safety failures including:

  • the external fire escape was in a state of near collapse due to a lack of maintenance
  • there were a number of fire doors in the premises that were damaged or had missing self-closing devices
  • there was evidence of uncontrolled smoking in the premises
  • there were a number of damaged electrical items in the premises
  • there were holes in the fire compartmentation (the division of the building into discrete fire zones)
  • there were electrical fuse boards in the means of escape not protected by fire resistant material
  • there was not a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of fire for the premises and its occupants.

In mitigation, Davis said that the failures had been corrected.

The charges brought against Davis were:

  • failure to provide adequate general fire precautions at St Andrew’s Lodge
  • a failure to provide a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment for the premises
  • a failure to ensure that relevant people were able to safely evacuate the premises in the event of a fire occurring
  • a failure to ensure the premises, its equipment, devices and facilities were properly maintained.