A Chesterfield nursing home has been fined a total of £141,000 and ordered to pay costs of £73,000 following a fire which led to the tragic death of a resident.
Despite being rescued by firefighters during the blaze at Brookholme Croft nursing and residential home in Hasland on October 13, 2013, Evelyn Raywood died in hospital as a result of her injuries, caused by the fire which started when an electronic cigarette battery exploded while left on charge.
Investigations into the fire highlighted inadequacies in the home’s fire safety provisions and initiated prosecution proceedings against Brookholme Croft Limited.
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service first notified Brookholme Croft Limited of fire safety deficiencies in November 2012 and again in May 2013, following audits of the premises.
At the time of the 2013 fire, many of the required improvements had still not been completed.
These included the requirement to have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment which would have identified the limited provisions for evacuating residents in an emergency, which was to prove a critical factor on the night of the fire.
Further failures included a lack of evacuation equipment, insufficient staff to evacuate the residents needing assistance, inadequate emergency lighting, inadequate training of staff and inadequate emergency evacuation plans.
All of these factors placed residents at risk of death and serious injury in the fire.
John Haynes, Fire Inspector for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Residents of nursing and care homes are among the most vulnerable people in society and as a rule are totally reliant on the operators of such homes for their safety and welfare.
“In this tragic case the company failed in their duty to provide a safe environment and as a result, residents were exposed to a very real risk of death and injury on the night of the fire.
“It was only a matter of chance that the death toll was not much higher as there was no evacuation attempted by staff, who had erroneously been told to leave immobile residents in their room and await rescue by the Fire Service.
“This case will send a strong message to operators of care homes underlining their responsibility to ensure all residents can be safely evacuated in the event of fire.”