Southwark council has recently pleaded guilty to breaking fire safety regulations on four counts, over a blaze in a 14-storey towerblock which killed six people including three children. The London council admitted that it had failed to address the fire risks at Lakanal House in the years leading up to the incident, which has been known as the UK’s worst ever tower block fire.
The inquest had previously noted that the fire started in a television in a 9th floor flat which spread ferociously across the tower block. Tragically, the six people, three women and three children, died on the 10th and 11th floors after they were told by 999 operators to stay inside their homes, believing that the fire safety measures would be sufficient to prevent the fire and smoke spreading throughout the building.
Those that survived the fire ran out of the building to safety, despite fire fighters instructions telling them to stay inside their flats. This would have been the correct advice, had the fire safety measures not failed. It is therefore seen that the fire fighters also have responsibility over the tragic, avoidable deaths.
London fire brigade originally brought 22 charges against Southwark council, yet the council agreed to plead guilty to just 4 of those charges on a revised indictment. It could be argued that this case is needed to present a message to all landlords, social or otherwise, that there are fatal consequences if they ignore their responsibilities. A Southwark spokeswoman has said that the council have since spent £62m on fire risk programmes since.
If you are unsure of your obligations as a landlord when it comes to fire safety, contact the expert team at Fire FM on 01582 668500