Fire curtains repair work "never checked" by Peverel before Gibson Court fire, inquest hears

Surrey Comet: Gibson Court: The fatal fire spread through the roof Gibson Court: The fatal fire spread through the roof

Repair works to a fire curtain in the roof space of Gibson Court were never checked by the company that owned the retirement home, an inquest has heard.

Repairs to the fire curtains were discussed on the fifth day of Irene Cocketon's inquest.

Mrs Cocketon, 87, died after a fire broke out two doors down from her flat at the Hinchley Wood property and spread into the roof space.

The court heard today that Peverel Retirement's national technical manager relied on photographs showing the state of the fire curtain before and after repair work, rather than checking himself or asking staff to look in the roof space.

The curtain in question was damaged by a water contractor who was unable to gain access to a tank in the loft space in 2010.

The contractor alerted Barry Everitt, national technical manager at Peverel, to the damage and it was subsequently repaired and invoiced without Peverel staff checking the repairs.

Coroner Richard Travers said: "For a curtain to be effective, it would have to be erected to a proper and satisfactory standard. How would you have been satisfied yourself it was done in a satisfactory manner?"

Mr Everitt responded that the works were just a repair "rather than the installation of a new curtain".

Mr Travers said: "If you are not aware technically of how the job should be done and how it should be erected, how can you be satisfied yourself by looking at a photograph it was done properly?"

Mr Everitt said: "There was a gap there before and afterwards there is no gap."

Mr Travers reiterated to the court that this assumption did not necessarily mean the curtain had been repaired in a proper manner.

Mr Everitt said: "I looked at the photograph and was satisfied the work had been done.

"All I can say is at the time, I was completely satisfied by what Ted Earl [contractor] told me and what I was shown in the photographs."

The inquest also heard again from Marion Debeer, former house manager of Gibson Court, who said she was not aware the conditions of any other fire curtains in the roof space had been checked.

Ms Debeer also told the court she never entered the roof space and said her understanding of a fire curtain was a "flimsy mesh sort of thing hanging down".

The inquest continues.

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