Rosepark : Fire safety team didn’t check home

The man in charge of Strathclyde Fire and Rescue when a blaze killed 14 care home residents told an inquiry into the deaths that the brigade could only give advice on fire safety when asked to do so.

Former Strathclyde Firemaster Jeff Ord said routine inspections had not been carried out at Rosepark Care Home in Uddingston because officers were not invited to by the owners or were ever advised of any problems.

Mr Ord explained that despite the fire service having an obligation under the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 Act, it was not the habit of the brigade to arrange inspections.

Previously the inquiry has heard similar evidence from Hugh Adie, the former senior divisional fire safety officer for Strathclyde.

He told the inquiry into the deaths of the elderly patients: “The role of the fire brigade in to give opinions and advice on safety, when asked to do so.

“The fire brigade would always have been on hand to give advice, when requested.”

Advocate-depute Robert Weir QC, questioned Mr Ord, 61, on his first day giving evidence to the hearing, in Motherwell. His evidence will continue today.

The fire, in January 2004, is believed to have begun in a linen cupboard where aerosols were stored next to an electrical distribution box.

Earlier, the inquiry, being held before sheriff-principal Brian Lockhart, heard from former fire safety engineer Dr Paul Stollard.

When asked about storing aerosols next to an electrical box, Mr Stollard said: “This was a very unwise thing to do.

“It is well known that highly dangerous products like these, should be stored, kept and disposed of appropriately.”

A move to prosecute Rosepark owners Thomas and Anne Balmer and their son Alan, over alleged safety breaches at Rosepark, was abandoned in 2007 after a judge dismissed the charges. In 2008 a fresh indictment was served but those charges were also dropped. Last year, Lord Matthews ruled that current laws make it impossible to bring prosecutions against the Balmer family.

The inquiry continues.