Six companies charged with fire safety offences after Cheshire retirement village is devastated by fire

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One of the biggest ever fires attended by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has resulted in fire safety charges for six companies involved.

Beechmere Retirement Village in Crewe was destroyed by fire in August 2019, which saw more than 150 residents lose their homes and possessions. Such was the scale of the blaze, over 70 firefighters were deployed at its height to bring the fire under control.

Following a “long and complex” investigation by Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, these six companies have been charged under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order:

  • Advantage (Cheshire) Ltd, contracted to procure the design, build and finance of Beechmere and the operation of the village (Advantage is a subsidiary of Your Housing Ltd).
  • Your Housing Ltd, who employed staff at the retirement village. They were the responsible person for fire safety measures, as defined by Article 3(a) of the Fire Safety Order 2005.
  • Morgan Sindall Property Services Ltd, the facilities management subcontractor to Advantage, responsible for responsive repairs and cyclical maintenance.
  • WSP UK Ltd, contracted to produce a detailed fire strategy in 2007, and in 2008 produce an operational fire safety manual and carry out a fire risk assessment of Beechmere.
  • Total Fire Group Ltd, contracted to carry out fire risk assessments in August 2017 and August 2018 at both Beechmere and Hazelmere retirement villages.
  • · MAC Roofing and Contractors Ltd, contracted by Morgan Sindall Property Services to undertake roofing works at Beechmere between 6 and 8 August 2019.

A spokesperson for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service announced the long list of charges against each company, saying: “Since 2019, the service has worked tirelessly to investigate the cause of the fire and establish any potential breaches of fire safety legislation.

“This has been a long and complex process owing to the scale of the fire and the number of parties involved in designing, building, maintaining and managing the building.”

The investigation also revealed issues with Hazelmere, another retirement village in Winsford. Designed to the same specification as Beechmere by Your Housing Ltd, work has already been carried out to rectify issues.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service now says it is “satisfied” that fire risk at Hazelmere is “appropriately managed”, however charges have been brought in connection with the breaches identified.

The first court date for the six companies to appear at Warrington Magistrates’ Court will be later this year, on 17th October.

For answers to questions on employers’ obligations around fire in the workplace, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Do I need a fire evacuation chair?

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