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Reminder to Business Owners/Landlords to take fire safety seriously

4th July 2014

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding business owners and landlords to take fire safety matters seriously following a prosecution (in Harrogate)

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding all business owners, housing landlords and managing agents to make sure that they are providing the correct level of fire safety provisions and services so as not to breach Fire Safety Legislation.

This follows the prosecution of a landlord and an individual operating a property letting business in Harrogate. They were ordered to pay £13,618.16 in fines and costs. 

Following a serious fire in a basement flat at 29 Nydd Vale Terrace, Harrogate on 30th December 2012, an  inspection of the premises was conducted by fire safety officers from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Environmental Health Officers from Harrogate Borough Council.

During the post fire inspection deficiencies in the required fire protection measures were found. Including;

  • Lack of a fire alarm and detection system.
  • Lack of self-closing fire doors.
  • No assessment of the fire risk had been carried out by those responsible.

Officers from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service  worked closely with Harrogate Borough Council during the investigation of this fire incident.

Due to the seriousness of the fire protection deficiencies and the associated risk of death or serious injury which was present, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority took the decision to prosecute Rava Properties Limited, the company operating the rental property. Mr Nigel Rudd former director of Rava Properties Limited was also prosecuted.

On July 2nd 2014 at Harrogate Magistrates Court, Rava Properties Limited pleaded guilty in total to two contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  

Also on July 2nd 2014 at  Harrogate Magistrates Court, solicitor Mr Rob Rode entered a plea of guilty on behalf of  Mr Nigel Rudd, in his absence, to two contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  

In sentencing, Magistrates stated that : “These were two serious offences. Firstly in not having conducted a fire risk assessment (breach of article 9). And secondly in failing to provide adequate general fire precautions (breach of article 8). There was a vulnerable victim in the basement flat who had limited access to the outside and a young family in the upstairs flat. The defendants’ experience of letting property should have ensured that there were appropriate safety measures in the property.” 

Rava Properties Limited was fined a total of £6,000 and  ordered to pay in full prosecution costs of £1,498.16. 

Mr Nigel Rudd was fined a total of £ 6,000.     

Ms Karen Galloway prosecuting stated that: “The decision to prosecute is only taken in the most serious cases and it is not a decision taken lightly. 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 under our audit schedule are well-managed and are conscientious about fire safety matters.

He continues; “We do, however, continue to find a number of business premises, flats and shared housing, where the Regulatory Reform (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 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 within an acceptable timescale. Unfortunately in this case the risk of fire had materialised and lives were put at risk. 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 Service 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.

 

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service 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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