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Landlord Sentenced for Fire Safety Failings

17th May 2013

Sentencing

Today at Leeds Crown Court Alan Foster was given a 12 month custodial sentence.

Area Manager Dave McCabe of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said; “The events and circumstances surrounding this case contributed to the tragic and unnecessary loss of life for two young people. The officers of The Fire and Rescue Service have been acutely aware of the effect these losses have had on the families of Mr Jamie Kyne and Miss Jan Wilson.

“This case has been long, protracted and complicated to investigate for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. The Fire Authority has been determined to resolve all the issues and breaches of legislation that occurred.

“It is not possible, nor desirable to continually check up on every premises where the Fire Safety Order applies. The duty to ensure premises are safe lies with ‘The Responsible Person’. In this case Foster was ‘The Responsible Person’ and he failed in his duties.

“The Fire Authority, through the law, has done what it can to bring some recompense. However, our thoughts and condolences are with the families of Jamie Kyne and Jan Wilson.”

Background

In the early hours of the 5th September 2009 at a premises known as Buckrose Court, Malton, a fire was started deliberately by Peter Brown who is now serving a prison sentence for arson.  

The fire was started within the communal staircase area of a small bock of newly built flats. The materials that were set alight comprised of a significant quantity of combustible items stored within the stairway on the ground floor of the premises. Tragically the fire caused the deaths of 2 talented young jockeys, Mr Jamie Kyne and Miss Jan Wilson; other residents of the flats had to escape by jumping from windows.

The premises are owned and under the control of Mr Alan Foster, the defendant in this case.

Buckrose House is a three storey premises also owned by Mr Foster, which lies within the same site as Buckrose Court. The premises were originally a hotel, but were subsequently licensed as a house in multiple occupation with shared facilities. 

Investigation

Fire Safety and Fire Investigation officers from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have dedicated an unprecedented amount of resources to this case. This was initially, in conjunction with North Yorkshire Police, to establish the cause of the fire and subsequently under the Fire Authorities powers which are held within the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Fire Safety investigations revealed that Mr Foster had breached several of the requirements of the Fire Safety Order and numerous breaches had taken place in both Buckrose Court and Buckrose House.

Alarmingly, Mr Foster continued to have failed in his duties to manage and maintain fire safety within Buckrose House two years after the fire.

Prosecution

Following lengthy investigations of Buckrose Court commencing September 2009 and of Buckrose House commencing October 2009. North Yorkshire Fire Authority brought charges pursuant to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 against Mr Foster as responsible person for both premises in July 2012.

North Yorkshire Fire Authority engaged an expert witness to provide an independent assessment of Mr Foster’s lack of compliance with the Fire Safety Order.

Count 1

Count 1 alleged that, between 5 March 2009 and 6 September 2009, at Buckrose Court, Mr Foster failed to provide appropriate general fire precautions by storing combustible material within a stairway, failure to manage fire precautions within the common parts, failure to carry out a fire risk assessment, failure to maintain the general fire precautions within the stairways, failure to establish a fire procedure and failure to disseminate such a procedure to residents.

Count 2

Count 2 alleged that between 5 March 2009 and 6 September 2009, at Buckrose Court, no suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment had been carried out, such a fire risk assessment would have made a major contribution to ensuring that the other breaches were avoided.  Whilst arson was the primary cause of the two deaths that occurred, the breach of Article 9(1) of the Fire Safety Order could also be said to be the cause of these deaths, in that the deaths would have been significantly less likely were it not for that breach.

Count 8

Count 8 alleged that, on 18 August 2011, at Buckrose House, the Defendant breached Article 8(1) (b) of the FSO by failing to provide appropriate general fire precautions.  These include doors between rooms and the common escape route that were not effectively self-closing and faults on the fire alarm system and placed relevant persons at risk of death or serious injury in case of fire.

Count 9

Count 9 alleged that, on 18 August 2011, at Buckrose House, no suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment had been carried out, in breach of Article 9(1) of the Fire Safety Order.  The lack of such a fire risk assessment would have made a major contribution to ensuring in the risk of death or serious injury of relevant persons in case of fire. 

Building Works

 

The investigations into the fire uncovered that during the building works at Buckrose Court. The company responsible for ensuring the requirements of the Building Regulations were JHAi Ltd. The investigation showed that JHAi had not properly consulted with the Fire Authority as it is duty bound to do so.

North Yorkshire Fire Authority perused this omission by JHAi through The Construction Industry Council’s (CIC) complaints procedure. JHAi were investigated by The CIC and they subsequently took action.

 

 

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