Building owner pleads guilty to series of “potentially catastrophic" fire safety failings

Firefighters attended a significant blaze at a building made up of three self-contained flats above a shop on Queensway in Bayswater in 2018 and raised concerns about the fire safety measures. Subsequent investigations by London Fire Brigade inspectors resulted in charges being brought against the person responsible for the building, John Kyriakides, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order due to the failings they found.

When firefighters arrived at the fire on August 9th 2018, they found two women trapped at the windows of their second floor flat with huge plumes of smoke issuing from the windows below them. Fortunately firefighters were able to rescue the women and a number of other people in the building were forced to escape via the staircase which was filling with thick smoke. Several residents were treated for smoke inhalation. A statement from a resident of the top floor flat, who was pregnant at the time of the fire, said she had difficulty leaving as there was so much thick, black smoke and that she hadn’t heard any smoke alarms and there was no emergency lighting.

Mr Kyriakides pleaded guilty to three charges and was sentenced to two months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and a fine of £20,000. He was also ordered to pay £11,500 prosecution costs.

He was charged in respect of a number of breaches of duties, namely by failing:

  • To carry out a fire safety risk assessment and to keep the risk assessment up to date
  • To make effective arrangements in relation to the protective and preventative measures required, including to arrange for safe evacuation
  • To ensure the presence of an appropriate and functioning fire alarm and detection system

The Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Paul Jennings, said, “Breathing apparatus crews who entered the building reported heavy smoke logging inside and they were unable to see anything but worked hard to tackle the blaze and prevented it spreading to other parts of the building, fortunately without any serious injuries. Our inspectors found failings in the building which amounted to a serious breach of Mr Kyriakides’s duties and showed a disregard of any proper fire safety measures and therefore a disregard for the safety of his tenants. Failings in fire safety measures also pose a heightened risk to firefighters who are already doing a dangerous job. There’s no excuse for leaving people’s safety to chance, especially when information is so readily available to those with responsibility for safety in buildings to understand what their duties are and ensure they comply with the law.”

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