Flat owners prosecuted after concerned residents raise alarm over fire safety issues

Two property owners have been fined over £11,000 for fire safety breaches in Middlesbrough.

Businessmen Kambiz Kamyab and Russell Karl Mills, who are joint owners and responsible persons for 34-36 Borough Road, Middlesbrough, were found in breach of fire safety regulations after an inspection was carried out by Cleveland Fire Authority in 2022. The premises includes four flats, with one flat used for storage and three others occupied by four residents.

Both men later pleaded guilty to several offences, including “Article 32(1)(a) a failure to comply with any requirement or prohibition imposed by articles 8 to 22 and 38 (fire safety duties) where that failure places one or more relevant persons at risk of death or serious injury in case of fire, specifically”. As reported by Cleveland Fire Brigade, the breaches to fire safety included:

  • A failure to take general fire precautions to ensure the safety of the premises for relevant persons who are not employees, including breaches in compartment walls and floors where services pass
  • Lack of fire risk assessment for the premises to “identify the general fire precautions required to safeguard relevant persons
  • Inadequate fire detection and method of giving warning in case of fire. It was reported that “at the time of the resident raising a complaint with fire safety regulators the premises had no fire detection or warning system installed
  • Combustible and other items being stored on the means of escape
  • Flat doors not being fire doors.

Residents initially expressed their concerns to fire safety officers in April 2022. On inspection, officers discovered a lack of fire safety measures and issued a prohibition notice for the flats, leading to the residents being rehoused. At the time, an experienced Fire Officer said that the fire safety measures were the “worst he had ever seen”.

While the Brigade noted that no fire incident had occurred before the inspection was carried out, it was “reasonable to assume” that “if a fire had transpired then relevant persons would have been placed at risk of death or serious injury”.

At Teesside Magistrates Court on 5 December, both businessmen were successfully prosecuted for failing to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales. They were fined £11,100.80.

Ian Hayton Chief Fire Officer at Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “We welcome the outcome of today’s court case, which reflects the seriousness of the offences committed under fire safety legislation. We always seek to work with business owners in the first instance to maintain fire safety standards within their premises. Where individuals responsible for building fire safety completely disregard their duty and place people at risk, Cleveland Fire Authority will not hesitate to prosecute if necessary.

We would like to remind all businesses that they have a duty to comply with fire safety legislation and support is available from our dedicated team of Fire Engineers. In bringing this case to a prosecution, it demonstrates how seriously we take our responsibilities to protect the lives of people in our community.”