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Reminder to business owners to manage fire safety matters correctly following prosecution.

22nd July 2015

Following the prosecution of a man operating a business in Selby, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding all business owners to make sure that they are managing their fire safety obligations correctly.

During a multi-agency visit to the Waterfront Hotel, 36 Ousegate, Selby on 30th July 2014 fire safety officers from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service found a catalogue of fire safety failings.  

The building was being used as a house in multiple occupation (HMO) rather than a hotel, although it had not been licenced as a HMO with Selby District Council. On entering the building the fire officer immediately found that the fire alarm and detection system was not in working order. Investigation found that the fire alarm had been out of action for at least two weeks and had not been tested or maintained for many months.

Other serious deficiencies included a lack of a suitable fire risk assessment, fire doors not functioning correctly, storage of combustible materials within the means of escape and emergency lights not working. Measures were taken to ensure that the fire alarm and detection system was repaired and combustible items removed from the means of escape there and then.  An Enforcement Notice was also served to ensure that standards of fire safety and management could be brought up to an acceptable level.  

Further visits to the premises to check that the necessary work had been carried out in September and October 2014 showed that not enough had been done to ensure that the fire safety measures and management standards had been brought up to the required level. 

Due to the seriousness of these fire safety deficiencies, which had been present for several months, and the failure to comply with all the matters contained within the Enforcement Notice North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority took the decision to prosecute Mr Anil Altin.

On June 24th 2015 at York Magistrates Court Mr Anil Altin pleaded guilty in total to five 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 July 22nd  2015 at York Crown Court, His Honour Judge (HHJ) Ashurst heard details of those five contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Mr Altin was ordered to serve 200 hours of unpaid community service work within 12 months.

In sentencing HHJ Ashurst said that: “The premises were run on a shoestring” and that: “It was an accident waiting to happen.” He went on to say that: “This case should serve as a warning to all landlords to ensure that they are meeting their fire safety obligations.”

Ms Karen Galloway prosecuting solicitor for the Fire Authority stated that: “This was an extremely serious case for which the Fire and Rescue Authority  had to prosecute the person responsible for safety within the building.  Those living at the address were placed at risk of death or serious injury owing to the inadequate fire safety measures in place.  A fire at the premises could have had resulted in catastrophic consequences.  There is no doubt that had the Fire Authority not taken action the serious contraventions in this case would have continued unchecked”.

Station Manager, David Watson of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service do work closely with other local enforcement agencies in an attempt to improve safety standards. Many of the business premises that we visit are well-managed and are conscientious about fire safety matters. However, some of the buildings  which are brought to our attention because of fire incidents or complaints turn out to present serious fire safety concerns which endanger those living in, working at or visiting the premises.”

He continued; “An adequate fire risk assessment is the starting point for ensuring that the rest of the fire safety provisions are correct, properly managed and maintained. In buildings 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 will 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 do so within an acceptable time scale. Unfortunately in this case the person with control had failed so seriously and allowed people, who were vulnerable, to continue to sleep in the rooms. 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 2000 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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