Guest house owner handed 6 month sentence for fire safety failings

A guest house owner has been sentenced to six months in custody, suspended for two years, for breaking fire safety laws and putting ‘lives at serious risk’ following a blaze at her Barking premises.

The fire, which took place in 2014, caused two people to jump to safety from a window and resulted in a number of others being treated for smoke inhalation.

Kanchan Sawhney, who ran the ‘Barking Guest House’, was found guilty of three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order following a successful prosecution by the Brigade.

The blaze, which was caused by a faulty electric blanket, left the ground and first floor of the three-storey converted end of terrace house badly damaged.

Following the fire, inspecting officers visited the premises and raised a number of serious concerns, including;

  • an inadequate fire alarm and detection system
  • inadequate escape route
  • no fire risk assessment

Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Dan Daly, said: “This was a very serious fire which left a number of people needing medical attention and if it hadn’t been for the efforts of the firefighters who brought it under control, the outcome could have been even worse.

“As the owner of the guest house, Ms Sawhney was responsible for ensuring the correct fire safety measures were in place and that her  premises met fire safety regulations.

“The fact that they clearly weren’t in place and didn’t meet those regulations put the lives of everyone inside the property at serious risk.

“Building owners and managers have a clear responsibility under the law to ensure those in their premises are safe from the risk of fire.

“Hopefully the sentence handed down in this case will serve as a stark reminder to others to ensure they fulfil their own fire safety responsibilities under the law.”