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£20,000 fine after fire at buy to let 'could have led to fatalities'

A buy to let investor has been fined £20,000 after a kitchen fire that occurred in May last year at a private rental property in Worthing.

Terry Millis has appeared at Brighton Magistrates Court to plead guilty to Article 11 Fire Safety Arrangements and Article 17 Maintenance; the £20,000 fine was a reduced penalty from the original £30,000 due to his guilty plea and mitigating health issues. 

The fire service was awarded full costs of £1,700.

Three fire engines were mobilised to a fire in a first floor flat in Worthing on May 14 2017. Fire crews quickly brought the fire under control. Two residents were led to safety from a second floor flat, after the staircase became smoke logged. One person was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation.

During the incident fire crews identified poor fire safety standards and that the fire alarm had failed to activate, preventing residents who were asleep in bed from escaping the building.

The court heard that as well as the failings identified with the maintenance of the fire alarm system, there were inadequate fire safety arrangements for the residents.

Richard Bradley, Business Fire Safety and Fire Investigation Officer, says: “Due to the serious nature of this incident, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service took legal action against the landlord. This fire could have resulted in a number of fatalities.

“Landlords have a moral and legal responsibility to ensure that fire safety systems, such as fire alarms, are in good working order. This fine sends out a clear message that poor fire safety management will not be tolerated, and that enforcement action will be taken by the fire service.”

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