Two companies have been fined for failing to ensure the safety of residents in a block of flats after admitting safety breaches after it went up in flames.

A judge said it was down to ‘pure chance’ that no one had died as a result of the fire after it ripped through the building within minutes of starting in one of the flats.

Cleveland Fire Brigade rescued two people from Tower Chambers and led three other residents to safety after the fire broke out in the early hours of the morning on February 2, 2021.

A further 12 people managed to make their own way to safety from the flats above a fish and chip shop on Tower Street, Hartlepool.

Following the brigade’s investigation, fire risk assessor Justin Morgan admitted failing to carry out the task safely.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Asset Property Management (APM) were responsible for installing and maintaining fire doors and emergency exits for the communal areas of the multi-occupancy building.

The Northern Echo: Tower Chambers, Tower Street, HartlepoolTower Chambers, Tower Street, Hartlepool (Image: Google)

Joseph Hart, prosecuting, said Total Events Safety Teams had contracted Morgan to carry out a safety survey of the building but had failed to check his credentials.

The court heard how fire doors were incorrectly fitted, a fire alarm failed to alert residents, smoke filled the corridors as door seals failed, and there was no safe route out for residents.

Judge Jonathan Carroll said: “This case relates to a significant and comprehensive failure to have regard for statutory fire safety regime regulations.

“Each defendant, significantly fell below the standards that are expected and put a significant number of people at substantial risk.”

He added: “It is nothing more than a combination of pure chance and speed and efficiency of the local fire service that means that there was no loss of life.”

Paul Abrahams, representing APM, said his client had pleaded guilty to four breaches of fire safety regulations.

Michele Turner, representing Total Events Safety Teams, told the judge that the company only had £100 in its bank account.

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While Stephen Constantine, representing Morgan, said his client continues to be troubled by ‘what might have happened’ as a result of his failures.

The judge fined APM £25,000 for its four breaches while Total Events Safety Teams was fined £10,000 for its failures.

And 37-year-old Morgan, of Crosslake Gardens, Skelton, east Cleveland, was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for 18-months and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

All three defendants were ordered to pay a contribution to prosecution costs.