Landlord jailed and fined £10,000 for fire safety failings

The Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) has successfully prosecuted the landlord of two properties after fire safety failings posed a “serious threat” to the life and safety of tenants.

Fire safety officers from LFRS first inspected the two properties owned by Ms Angela Chang – 120 Victoria Rd West (Great Fortune House restaurant) and 16 St Georges Lane – in March 2021. During the inspection, several fire safety failings were identified, and a prohibition notice was subsequently issued. As reported by the Blackpool Gazette, failings included a lack of appropriate fire detection measures and a fire risk assessment. Both properties were also found to be “cluttered with rubbish and old mattresses”, preventing tenants from being able to evacuate safely.

As stated by LFRS, the flats were being occupied by a family of three, several employees of the restaurant, and a builder who was “undertaking work on the premises”. The landlord’s failure to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 led the LFRS to move toward a prosecution.

In December 2023, Ms Chang admitted to the breaches and pleaded guilty to six offences:

  • Failure to take such general fire safety precautions to ensure the safety of tenants
  • Failure to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
  • Failure to ensure that the premises were equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms 
  • Failure to ensure that people could evacuate the premises as quickly and safely as possible
  • Failure to properly maintain an appropriate fire evacuation procedure for the premises
  • Failure to safeguard the safety of relevant persons by ensuring that any facilities, equipment, and devices provided.

Appearing at Preston Crown Court on 19 March 2024, Ms Chang was sentenced to three months in prison for “failure to comply with the above articles of the Fire Safety Order”. She was also ordered to pay £10,414 in costs to LFRS.

The Protection Department Group Manager for LFRS, Ian Armistead, said: “Ms Angela Chang is the responsible person for these premises, and as such has a legal duty to ensure that people who use her premises are provided with a safe environment. We hope that this prosecution will ensure that the standard of her properties is kept within the requirements of the law.

In our constant drive to make Lancashire safer, our fire safety enforcement teams are always actively seeking out other dangerous premises. We would hope that the outcome of this particular case where a custodial sentence has been issued, sends a clear message that fire safety must always be a priority. In this instance, the consequences of the inadequate fire safety measures and inadequate management could have led to serious injury or loss of life and circumstances left us with no other option but to take this action.

Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service will always work with those willing to address fire safety issues and businesses can be assured that we will continue to support them in complying with the Fire Safety Order.

We would urge landlords and responsible persons who need to take action to comply with fire safety regulations to visit the Business Safety section of our website, which contains advice and guidance on how to comply with your legal duties.