Surrey’s successful prosecution


Southern Cross Healthcare Limited has been fined £100,000, including costs of £20,000, after pleading guilty at Guildford Crown Court in December, to charges relating to inadequate fire safety standards at a care home in Surrey.

Surrey Fire and Rescue Service pursued the court action against the company following an incident in January 2007 when they attended a boiler room fire at Norfolk House, Weybridge - one of Southern Cross's 720 Care Homes nationwide.

The subsequent fire investigation and evidence gathering by Surrey's fire officers revealed that the fire started as a result of accumulated general rubbish and storage in the boiler room over a period of time. They also discovered that staff were not instructed in the findings of the fire risk assessment which had identified the boiler room as a high fire risk area and that it should not be used as a store. Furthermore the company did not have an adequate system for implementing and reviewing the fire safety arrangements on the premises thereby placing the people who were in their care and their staff at great risk.


ACO Gavin Watts said:

"This case clearly demonstrates how our fire safety officers are successfully inspecting relevant buildings and applying the law to help ensure the safety of our community."

"Surrey Fire and Rescue Service works closely with businesses to help them with their compliance duties under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, but where their responsibilities are not taken seriously, the Service will absolutely consider prosecution, particularly in cases such as this when vulnerable people may be affected by a company's shortfalls."

"We would like this case to act as a timely reminder to business owners and landlords throughout Surrey that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order is in place, and that the regulations place certain responsibilities on businesses that are there to make people safer."