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October 20, 2022

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Prosecutions

Warrington care home fined £60,000 for ‘serious breaches’ of fire safety regulations

Ashberry Healthcare, which previously owned and ran the Heathercroft Care Home in Warrington, has been fined more than £60,000 following what the Judge said to be “unforgivable” fire safety failures.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service brought the charges after firefighters were called to the home in May 2018 by carers, after a 90-year-old resident accidentally set fire to himself while smoking while in an outdoor smoking shelter. He later died on the way to the hospital as a result of a heart attack.

Inspecting officers found that an individual risk assessment to enable the resident to smoke safely had “gone missing”, while the audit also found defects in the building’s compartmentation, potentially allowing smoke and flames to spread in the event of a fire.

While the Judge acknowledged the decision to allow the resident to smoke unsupervised did not cause his death directly, he said it was “unforgivable” that deficiencies in the safety processes led to it taking almost four minutes for anyone to respond to the shelter’s call button.

A post mortem examination found Mr Robinson died of a heart attack. It should not be implied that the fire caused his death or that Ashberry Care Ltd. has been prosecuted for causing his injuries or death.

Welcoming the sentencing, Lee Shears, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This has been a very distressing case for the firefighters who attended the fire, the care staff at the home, ambulance crews and our inspecting officers. Our thoughts are with Mr Robinson’s loved ones.

“His final moments serve as a reminder to care providers of the importance of having in place – and, more importantly, following – detailed individual risk assessments for all residents who smoke. They are particularly vulnerable if they have mobility problems or are treated with emollient creams, which make skin, clothing and bedding highly flammable.

“We work hard to help care providers to understand their responsibilities when it comes to fire safety, but as this tragic case highlights there are serious consequences for failing to comply.”

The news was first published on and sourced from Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service.

 

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