ALMO fined £40,000 for fatal failures in fire safety


Lewisham Homes has been fined £40,000 for failing to install secure fire doors and carry out regular risk assessments before a fire that caused the deaths of two women.

Sandra Clarke, a tenant of Marine Tower in Lewisham, set fire to her flat on the 16th floor on 4 February 2011, which then spread to a neighbouring flat and resulted in the death of two women, Kunaliny Alagaratnam and her relative Santhirapathy Tharmalingam. Two other residents whose flat had a self-locking fire door escaped unharmed.

Ms Clarke was sentenced to two counts of manslaughter in 2012 and is serving a 16-year prison sentence.

At a previous hearing, Lewisham Homes pleaded guilty to two charges relating to a failure to maintain fire doors at some of the flats and failure to carry out regular risk assessments, in breach of the Fire Safety Order 2005.

At the time of the fire in 2011, it had been over two years since a fire risk assessment had been carried out. Assessments are meant to be conducted annually.

The judge at Woolwich Crown Court ordered the ALMO to pay £40,000 plus £23,407 in costs.

Lewisham Homes said: “We accept our failings under the fire safety regulations and take residents’ safety very seriously. We have been determined to learn lessons and invested heavily year on year to continually improve fire safety, and have made significant progress over the past five years.” 

Since 2011, it has spent £10.8m to improve fire safety standards, carries out regular reviews of risk assessments and has recruited specialist fire safety staff.

Full article in Inside Housing