Ipswich firm fined £20,000 for failing to carry out risk assessment

The Ipaxis building in Wolsey Street, Ipswich

The Ipaxis building in Wolsey Street, Ipswich - Credit: Google Maps

An Ipswich company has been fined £20,000 for failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment at an apartment complex.

Ipaxis Management Company were fined by Suffolk County Council on March 16 following the company directors' initial appearance before Ipswich Magistrates' Court last year.

At last year's court appearance, they pleaded guilty to not complying with an enforcement notice, issued by Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, in relation to their building on 2-100 Wolsey Street, Ipswich.

In addition to being fined £20,000, Ipaxis has been ordered to pay Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s legal costs for the court case, which total over £17,000.

Suffolk County Council said: "Sentencing was deferred until today, March 16, to enable Ipaxis to focus their funds on undertaking the required fire improvement works to the property.

"Although this is unusual, it was felt to be in the best interest of residents, with their safety remaining a priority for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service."

Upon issuing the fine, the magistrate commented that “with delegation comes obligation with requirement to manage”, supporting Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s stance that management companies must take responsibility in relation to fire matters.

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Jon Lacey, chief fire officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said:“Our Protection team regularly carries out audits of apartment complexes across Suffolk to ensure that these meet fire regulations and do not pose any unnecessary risk to the people living in them.

"Where we do see issues, we support and advise in the first instance.

“On a visit to Ipaxis in 2019, our officers raised some safety concerns and subsequently issued a Notification of Deficiencies before escalating this to an Enforcement Notice in 2020.

"The management company did not comply with the notice, leaving us with no option but to start legal proceedings. 

“I am delighted that the courts found in our favour and issued a substantial fine to Ipaxis today – sending a very clear message to businesses in Suffolk that fire enforcement breaches will not be tolerated in our county.”

Councillor Andrew Reid, cabinet member for public health and public protection, said: “I welcome the recent fire safety improvements to the Ipaxis building as a direct result of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s involvement.  

“Thanks to our Protection Team, the risks to residents were identified and are now in the process of being resolved – highlighting their fantastic work to protect people and property and prevent serious incidents from happening in the first place.

“I hope today’s outcome demonstrates the significant consequences of ignoring fire safety legislation, as we continue to do all that we can to ensure that Suffolk remains a safe and healthy place for everyone to live in.”

A Fire Risk Assessment has since been carried out at Ipaxis, leading to numerous fire safety improvements being implemented by the management company, including a fire alarm system upgrade to aid with evacuation in the event of a fire.

Further works are also planned, with the removal of the building’s Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) cladding currently in progress.