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Fire safety warning to flat landlords and tenants 10 January 2007

Fire Chief Brian Draper is warning that enforcement action will be taken to ensure rented accommodation complies with fire regulations.

His comments follow sentence last week of a landlord who was convicted of the manslaughter of a tenant for failing to comply with fire safety measures in a property on Demesne Road, Douglas.

Acting Deemster Simon Fawcus jailed the landlord for 15 months and fined his company a total of £8,500 for breaches of the Fire Precautions (Flats) Regulations 1996. In addition, he was personally ordered to pay costs amounting to £25,000 and his company a further £10,000 costs.

Fire Chief Brian DraperMr Draper said: ‘I fully concur with Acting Deemster Fawcus’s observations that compliance with fire safety regulations is of the utmost importance. The regulations are in place to prevent injury and death and will be rigorously enforced by fire safety officers.

‘In sentencing the landlord and fining his company, the Acting Deemster sent a clear message to all those responsible for the provision and maintenance of fire safety measures in rented accommodation. When we become aware that serious or persistent contraventions are taking place we have a duty to prosecute. The regulations have been in force for 10 years and there is no excuse for landlords who persistently flout the legislation.’

Owners, landlords, agents, companies and tenants are all obliged to comply with various aspects of the regulations. The Fire Safety Department has a dedicated Flats Team who provide advice free of charge. They can be contacted on 647328 or via email to the Fire and Rescue Service Headquarters on iomfire@gov.im.

Mr Draper added: ‘If a tenant obstructs a means of escape, introduces prohibited appliances or props open fire resisting doors, they can be liable under the legislation. On the other hand, if an owner fails to provide and maintain a suitable fire alarm system, emergency lighting system and adequate fire extinguishers, they would similarly be liable. If a tenant, landlord or owner of flats or a building containing flats is concerned that fire safety measures are not being observed, they can seek advice from the Fire Safety Department.

‘The regulations are there to protect each and every person living in flat or maisonette type dwellings and the importance of suitable, sufficient and regularly maintained fire precautions cannot be overstated. I would urge anyone who has concerns about any rented accommodation to contact Fire Safety officers.’

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