A code-compliant fire door assembly will provide protection for building occupants during a fire by slowing the spread of smoke and flames. Unfortunately, many do not understand the value of fire doors or the criteria they must meet.
Jay Liptrot is a Wales landlord, and ironically – a firefighter, who failed to install a fire door assembly to protect an apartment where 2 adults and 3 children died in a tragic act of arson. Although he was originally charged with manslaughter, his charge was reduced and he was convicted and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
We must continue to increase awareness of this issue, and of the NFPA 80 requirements for the inspection of fire door assemblies upon installation, after maintenance work, and also annually (visit iDigHardware.com/firedoor for more information).
A firefighter who failed to take proper safety precautions to prevent the deaths of five members of the same family in an arson attack has been sentenced to 15 months behind bars.
Judge, the Honourable Mrs Justice McGowan said a suspended sentence “cannot be justified” after Jay Brenton Liptrot admitted not taking recognisable steps to reduce the effects of fire at a house he owned in Maes y Groes, Prestatyn.
He was initially facing manslaughter charges after the Crown Prosecution Service built a case on the basis that he should “share the criminal responsibility” for the five fatalities.
During Liptrot’s trial, Caernarfon Crown Court heard that a basic fire door costing £250 would have provided 30 minutes against the blaze emanating from below.
Instead, a “woefully inadequate” door made of glass and thin wood failed to act as a barrier between the communal hallway and stairs leading to the upstairs flat, and instead funnelled heat and smoke upwards “like a chimney”.
It caused a sky light to smash, leaving the fire free to accelerate through the property at soaring temperatures.
Neighbours could do nothing but watch in horror as 23-year-old Liam Timbrell tried in vain to smash a sealed glass window of the upstairs maisonette.
He died as a result of the horrifying inferno along with his 20-year-old partner, Lee-Anna Shiers, their 15-month-old son Charlie and her nephew and niece, Bailey Allen, four and his two-year-old sister, Skye who had been staying the night.
Although booze-fuelled Melanie Smith was sentenced to at least 30 years behind bars for their murders in 2013, the Crown Prosecution Service built a case against Liptrot on the basis that he should “share criminal responsibility for their deaths”.
Jay Liptrot, aged 43, a retained on-call fireman, had arrived in the first appliance to reach the scene at Prestatyn, in October 2012.
He volunteered to enter his property, put on breathing apparatus, and carried out two of the young child victims of the inferno.
“That’s something that has lived with him every single day,” his QC Gordon Cole told Caernarfon crown court.
But sentencing him, Mrs Justice McGowan said the risk to the victims could “so easily have been prevented.” Landlords “must realise their responsibilities.”
There had been no adequate alarm system nor effective fire doors.
The judge told Liptrot: “You didn’t cause the fire. But the lack of a fire door meant the tenants didn’t have 30 minutes protection from the spread of the fire which would have been long enough for the fire brigade to arrive and start the rescue.”
North Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer Simon Smith said Liptrot would now be the subject of an internal investigation, adding a custodial sentence meant he “cannot continue as an employee”.
“As a responsible employer whose priority is the safety of the public, it is of course of deep concern to us that an employee, as a landlord, failed to take precautions to ensure this property was safe which not only goes against legislation but also against the core values of our service,” Mr Smith said.