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Prosecution of Business Owner (York)

14th November 2014

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are again reminding all business owners to make sure that they are providing the correct level of fire safety provisions and are not breaching Fire Safety Legislation, following the prosecution of a business man operating in York. 

Mr Mohamin Ahmed has pleaded guilty to  breaches of articles contained in the Fire Safety Order, relating to a property known as Bailash Tandoori in Bromley Street, York. Mr Ahmed ran the business as a takeaway restaurant.  

The offences came to light following a fire which occurred on 10th November 2013. They  relate to the duties of conducting a fire risk assessment, providing adequate general fire precautions and maintaining fire safety equipment.

Station Manager David Watson said: “These matters are arguably the cornerstone for providing adequate fire safety measures within premises and the most serious contained in the Fire Safety Order. The duty to take general fire precautions  are necessary to ensure the safety of both employees and persons living or visiting the property.  It relates to taking measure to reduce the risk of fire, prevent the spread of fire, securing, at all times, the means of escape from premises, along with the ability to fight fires, detect fires, give appropriate warnings and ensuring that employees are trained to deal with fire related incidents. In this instance Fire Officers believe that the breaches of the general fire precautions  were such as to result in the risk of death or serious injury.” 

Fire crews were called to  attended the property in the early hours of 10th November 2013 when a fire had broken out in the kitchen of the takeaway. A man who was a worker in the takeaway and residing upstairs in the premises suffered minor burns during the incident. Luckily he had managed to escape from the burning building. Fire officers at the scene noticed that the fire safety measures were not up to the required standard. Notably there was no fire alarm and fire detection system and the escape route from the living accommodation upstairs was not a fire protected route. These two matters are vitally important so that anyone sleeping can be woken in the event of a fire and that they have time to make a safe escape out of the building. 

A fire safety officer was called to premises and this resulted in a prohibition notice being served. Prohibition Notices are the highest sanction available to a Fire Authority and are used sparingly because of the significant impact on a business. They are only served when the general fire precautions are below the expected standards and where people are placed at immediate risk of death or serious injury.

On October 9th 2014 at York Magistrates Court Mr Mohamin Ahmed pleaded guilty to  contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Due to the seriousness of the offences the Magistrates declined to deal with the matter and sent the case to York Crown Court for sentencing. 

On November 13th 2014 at York Crown Court Mr Ahamed was awarded a community service order of 240 hours and was also ordered to make a contribution of  £1,500 towards prosecution costs. 

In sentencing Mr Recorder Baird said the breaches were serious. A staff member who escaped from the premises could easily have lost his life. He also noted that Mr Ahmed did nothing by the way of safety and that an escape route was blocked. 

Ms Karen Galloway prosecuting stated that: “The Fire and Rescue Service’s decision to prosecute was not taken lightly and this measure is only taken in the most serious cases. The Responsible Person is always in a position of authority, their lack of actions should have been foreseeable to prevent, in the event of fire, persons being put at risk of death or injury. The contraventions in this case were serious.

Station Manager, David Watson of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service says; “The majority of business premises that we visit are well-managed. Owners and directors of companies are usually conscientious about fire safety matters.

He continues; “We do, however, continue to find a number of businesses and premises, where the fire safety order applies, which do not have adequate fire risk assessments or fire safety provisions.

“In premises where sleeping takes place it is vitally important that the correct measures are provided and maintained. When fire alarm and detection systems are not provided or not maintained in full working order those people who are sleeping in a building may well have their lives put at risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire.  Fire safety officers always try to work with businesses and business owners to ensure they are compliant or can achieve compliance with the requirements of the legislation and within an acceptable time scale. NYFRS does provide a fire safety advice service and does publish fire safety information.  Unfortunately  in this case the person with control had not conducted a fire risk assessment and had not provided any fire  safety measures. In a premises where people were sleeping.  The conviction shows how seriously the Fire  Authority and the Courts view those who put the safety of others at risk in the event of a fire.”

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority urge business owners and those with responsibility for any premises, where the fire safety order applies, to ensure that they have conducted their Fire Risk Assessment or reviewed any existing Fire Risk Assessment when this is required. It is important that they are aware of the legislative obligations they need to comply with including having an up to date fire risk assessment.

In order to assist the business community to understand their responsibilities under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO), North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service organise a series of information  seminars throughout the county.  

If you are a member of the North Yorkshire business community and would like to attend one of these seminars, you can register your interest by emailing business.requests@northyorksfire.gov.uk 
or by visiting our website www.northyorksfire.gov.uk/businesssafety/seminars

For other fire safety information call the Fire Safety Advice Line (01609) 788545 or visit our
website  www.northyorksfire.gov.uk where links to business guidance documents can be found.


ENDS

Notes to Editor

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) is legislation that covers all premises other than domestic dwellings and certain special exemptions and its purpose is to protect occupants from fire.

NYFRS carries out around 3000 audits in business premises each year.  These audits look at the fire risk assessment which the person responsible for the business is obliged to ensure has been conducted. The audit also checks the findings of the fire risk assessment against the fire safety measures and management systems that are in place within the premises.



 



 

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