Morven House care home in Kenley fined £45,000 for 'shocking fire safety failings' that put residents' lives at risk
A Kenley care home has been fined £45,000 after inspectors found "truly shocking" fire safety failings had put its elderly residents' lives at risk.
Morven House, in Uplands Road, admitted breaking the law by blocking fire escapes and failing to maintain an adequate fire detection system or emergency plan.
London Fire Brigade inspected the home in February, when it had 17 residents including some with disabilities and dementia, after concerns were raised by the Care Quality Commission.
LFB inspectors found several major safety failings, the most serious of which were blocked fire escape routes on the ground floor that would have seriously hampered attempts to evacuate residents during a fire.
The front door of the home, which was undergoing building work, had been boarded up, while an alternative fire exit was completely blocked by bricks and cement, leaving just one escape route in the lounge at the back of the building.
Inspectors found another two fire exits, externals staircase leading down from the first and second floor, to be completely inaccessible due to scaffolding, while one was also too steep to be suitable for residents.
The safety officers also criticised the home's lack of an up-to-date fire risk assessment, emergency plan or fire detection system.
Morven Healthcare Ltd, which runs the home, pleaded guilty to five offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order at Croydon Crown Court yesterday.
On top of fines totalling £45,000, the court ordered the company to pay legal costs of £23,488.
Rita Dexter, LFB's deputy commissioner, said: "Protecting London’s most vulnerable residents is our priority.
"Families entrust the care of their loved ones to places such as this and to find people being put at risk from fire in places where they should be safe in this way is truly shocking.
"Building owners have a clear responsibility under fire safety laws to ensure that people living in their premises are safe from the risk of fire and if we find people are ignoring those responsibilities we won’t hesitate to prosecute.
"The sentence handed down in this case should serve as a stark warning that the courts take these matters just as seriously as we do."
Ten fires a week break out in London care homes each week and a third of people who died in accidental fires in the capital last year were in receipt of care, according to LFB.
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