Landlord receives suspended jail sentence for fire safety breaches

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) has welcomed the outcome of a court case in which a Bristol landlord received a suspended jail sentence for breaches of fire safety law.

Ashiq Mohammed Sadiq, aged 54, from Eastville, Bristol, was sentenced yesterday (Thursday 20 February) at Bristol Crown Court after pleading guilty to four charges.

The prosecution was brought by AF&RS following a fire at premises owned by Mr Sadiq at Stapleton Road, Bristol, on Friday 16 December 2011. Two people escaped from the from the fire with burns and smoke inhalation, however a third person, Jaroslav Bily aged 54, died as a result of injuries sustained in the fire.

Bristol Crown Court heard that Mr Sadiq had breached the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 by failing to complete a fire risk assessment; ensure that the premises were equipped with fire detectors and alarms; and that the exit route was adequately protected.

There was no self-closing fire door to the kitchen, and combustible materials were stored against unprotected electrical wiring in the escape route. There was also a lack of fire protection between the ground floor, which was full of combustible material, and the living accommodation above.

In his summing up His Honour Judge Wassall suggested that it was inconceivable not to fit alarms in such premises and that substantial negligence had been demonstrated. In sentencing he said: “This offence is so serious that a custodial sentence is justified”.

Mr Sadiq was sentenced to a six month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to serve 200 hours community service. He was also ordered to pay full costs to Avon Fire & Rescue Service of £7,819.

Station Manager Matt Peskett, Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s Head of Technical Fire Safety said: “We are satisfied with the outcome of this case and believe the sentence passed down today reflects the severity of the charges.

“Sadly one of the occupants died as a result of his injuries and other lives were put at risk because of failures to ensure safe accommodation was provided for residents in the event of fire.

“Part of the role of the fire and rescue service is to enforce the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order and ensure all business premises and public places comply so that people are safe.

“Landlords should be aware that where they provide accommodation they have a duty of care and a moral responsibility to look after their guests and residents. They should carry out a risk assessment and ensure their premises are up to the appropriate standard.

“Failure to do so may result in loss of life, as was sadly the case at these premises. Where breaches come to our attention, whether there is a fire or not, it may result in prosecution.

“We would like to remind all businesses that they have a duty to comply with fire safety legislation and I hope this case will show how seriously we take our responsibilities to protect the lives of people in our community.”

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales. A responsible person must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire management plan.

AF&RS works closely with businesses to ensure they comply with the regulations; officers are available to offer practical advice and assistance in this area.

For more information on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and keeping premises safe from fire visit www.avonfire.gov.uk/business-safety