Jail for directors who ‘deliberately and repeatedly’ ignored residents’ fire safety

People living in West Bromwich building were at risk of death or serious injury

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Published on 8 February 2024

People living in West Bromwich building were at risk of death or serious injury

Two company directors who put residents’ lives at risk by breaching fire safety regulations have been sentenced at court.

Carmen Lupu, Daniel Orasanu and First Job Ltd deliberately breached a prohibition notice served by fire safety inspecting officers (FSIOs) from West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS).

As a result, some 80 people living in the four-storey Metro Court in West Bromwich High Street were at risk of death or serious injury.

The pair, from Wombourne, fled the country in June 2018. They were subsequently found guilty by a jury, following a trial in absence, of nearly 30 breaches of The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Today (8 February 2024), at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Orasanu was sentenced to 34 months’ imprisonment and Lupu to 33 months. They were also ordered to pay full prosecution costs totalling £66,708.

In November 2016, following a referral from Sandwell Council, WMFS FSIOs visited Metro Court – originally an office block – and found multiple fire safety breaches:

no power to the fire alarm system, which was also faulty

insufficient fire detection in the third-floor corridor

numerous fire doors wedged or propped open

combustible materials in the staircase, which also obstructed the means of escape

flat windows which were not fire-resistant opening onto a staircase.

The failures were so serious that a prohibition notice was served, preventing anyone from using the premises for residential purposes. However, revisits over the following months revealed that people were still living there.

A subsequent Closure Order in August 2017 resulted in residents being moved to safety in an operation involving WMFS, the council and police.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, Area Manager Lee Brathwaite, WMFS’s Head of Protection, said: “This was a shocking case. Many lives were put at risk because fire safety requirements and our prohibition notice were repeatedly and deliberately ignored.

“We would much rather support and work with people who are responsible for fire safety. However, when necessary, we will not hesitate to use our powers and work with our partners to protect lives.”