Named and shamed

Posted under Prosecution on 01 Jun 2010

Prosecutions by the Fire Brigade continue to rise. Poor or non existent assessments and lack of training are a continuing problem. The LFB website states: ‘A risk assessment should be carried out by someone who has had sufficient training, and has good experience or knowledge of fire safety’

The Fire Brigade has never prosecuted a Griffin Fire customer. Fire risk assessments and training by Griffin Fire are professional and cost-effective.

Retailer, London. Fines £400,000 – Costs £136,052

New Look, the high street retailer, has been fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £136,052 after pleading guilty to two breaches of fire safety legislation. This followed a serious fire at the retailer’s Oxford Street store in London’s West End. Approximately 150 fire fighters and 35 appliances attended the fire in April 2007 when 450 people from the store and surrounding premises were evacuated. Unfortunately the fire service was not summoned until an office worker in an adjacent building made the call and the delay meant that the fire had spread by the time the fire fighters arrived. London Fire Brigade said that even though the alarm had sounded it had been reset on at least one occasion. During their investigation they also found a number of serious breaches including the lack of a suitable fire risk assessment, which meant that the correct procedures, in case of fire, were not in place. New Look had not provided staff with adequate fire safety training which, in turn, slowed evacuation and meant that customers were not shown the correct fire exits. This led to over 150 people being led from the building through the main entrance which was directly below the fire on the second floor.

Waste Management, Preston. Fines £150,000 – Costs £90,000

Veolia, an international waste management company, have been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £90,000 after pleading guilty to a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive. The court heard that a major chemical fire in Preston, which closed two motorways, started in an open area used to store drums of chemicals. Fire fighters reported seeing drums rocketing into the air and closed the industrial estate and the M6 and M55 while they tackled the blaze. Linda Murray, HSE Inspector for Lancashire said: “Our investigation showed that Veolia didn’t do enough to make sure that the dangerous chemicals on its site in Preston were stored safety. The company also failed to provide adequate training to its staff. Peter Holland, Chief Fire Officer, Lancashire Fire & Rescue added “ I trust this case will emphasise to other businesses the importance of carrying out a fire risk assessment and acting on the findings. There should be no doubt that the law requires this action and we will vigorously pursue our enforcement responsibilities where failings are identified.

Pub, London. Fines and costs £17,000

Punch Pub Company Ltd has been ordered to pay over £17,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to serious breaches of fire safety legislation. pleaded guilty of two contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Regulation Steve Turek said: “It is important all premises owners and operators have a fire risk assessment and even more importantly act upon its findings in a timely manner.

School, Chalfont St Peter. Fines £2,250 – Costs £5,750

The governing body of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School has pleaded guilty to breaching fire safety regulations. The governing body pleaded guilty to breaching three articles of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including failure to take general fire precautions, failure to adequately implement the findings of a fire risk assessment and failure to appoint fire wardens. It was fined £2,250 and ordered to pay costs of £5,750. Chris Bailey, Area Manager with Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue said: “The prosecution was brought in the interests of public safety. These breaches were very serious and served to place children and teachers in the school at serious risk, should a fire have occurred.”

Restaurant, London. Fines and costs £7,000

A former restaurant manager has been ordered to pay over £7,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to serious breaches of fire safety legislation. A number of fire safety breaches including no fire warning system, no fire exit signs and inadequate fire safety training to staff. There was also no fire risk assessment done for the premises. All premises owners and operators must undertake a fire safety risk assessment, which is now mandatory, act upon findings and put in place an emergency plan.”

Hotel, Exeter. Fines £3,415 – costs £4,900

Scott-Hake of The Edwardian Hotel has been fined £3,415 plus costs of £4,900 for breaching fire safety regulations. Mr, Exeter was prosecuted by the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority at Exeter Magistrates court on 16 October 2009 for failing to comply with the requirements of two Enforcement Notices issued under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Group Commander James Holgate of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said: “Our Fire Safety Officers work closely with businesses to help them comply with the Fire Safety Order but, where their responsibilities are not taken seriously, the Service will always consider prosecution. “I would like to advise business owners that Fire Safety is a legitimate overhead that needs taking into account. “The decision of the magistrates is another reminder to all businesses to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the law. This clearly demonstrates how Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service are committed to ensuring the safety of the community.”

Hotel, Ipswich. Fines £12,000 – costs £10,812

The Managing Director of Elizabeth Hotels Ltd has pleaded guilty to six offences of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 for offences at three premises, The offences included: • Failure to install appropriate fire alarm systems. Failure to review the Fire Risk Assessment at the Wherry Hotel and the Kings Head Hotel on a regular basis • Failure to install the appropriate type and level of signage at the Kings Head Hotel Elizabeth Hotels were fined £2,000 per offence and ordered to pay full costs of £10,812.

Restaurant, Reading. Fines £32,500 – costs > £5,000

The joint proprietor of the Hong Kong & Beijing Noodle Bar Mrs Genevieve Chan, was fined a total of £32,500 for failure to comply with fire safety regulations. Mrs Chan pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to 13 separate charges of placing persons at serious risk of death or serious injury from fire. The premises had no fire alarms, inadequate emergency lighting, inadequate fire protection measures in the basement and inadequate escape routes from the upper floors. In addition it was found that fire exit doors were locked and bolted, there was no fire risk assessment in place, staff had been given no fire safety training and corridors were obstructed with combustible storage. Mrs Chan was fined a total of £32,500 and ordered to pay costs in excess of £5,000 but faces up to six months in prison if she fails to do so.

Flats, Accrington. Fines £7,000 – Costs £2,000

The landlord of a commercial property pleaded guilty to seven breaches of fire safety legislation recently and was fined in excess of £7,000. The seven charges include failing to provide a single fire risk assessment; failing to maintain the fire alarm; failing to provide emergency lighting; failing to provide suitable firefighting equipment; storing combustible materials at a means of escape; failing to provide fire separation and failing to keep fire exits clear and available. Chief Fire Officer Peter Holland said:”We are delighted that the Magistrate has agreed with our assessment that the property was a death trap and the landlord had been negligent and reckless.

Slough, Berkshire. Fines and costs £5,000

The owners of The Nights Inn Bed and Breakfast, Ledgers Road were prosecuted for failing to provide information about who had responsibility for fire safety at the premises. The prosecution was brought against both men after they failed to comply with the requirements of notices which required them to provide information about who was responsible for fire safety.

Housing, Southampton. Fines £1,200 – Costs £2,000

Solitaire Property Management Ltd has been fined £1,200 plus ordered to pay costs of £2,000 after pleading guilty to two offences relating to charges of failure to comply with fire safety law. Solitaire Property Management Ltd failed to respond to a number of requests for information, under Article 27 of the Fire Safety Order, relating to premises in Ocean Village, This case clearly demonstrates how our fire safety officers are applying the law to help ensure the safety of our community and making Hampshire safer.”

And many more ….