Restauranteur convicted following fire safety breaches

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) has welcomed the outcome of a court case in which a takeaway restaurant owner received a prison sentence for breaches of fire safety law.

Misbah Uddin Chowdhury was sentenced today (Monday 6 July) at Bristol Crown Court after pleading guilty to seven charges.

For each charge he was sentenced to three months in prison to serve concurrently. He was also ordered to pay AF&RS the full costs of £17,572.58.

Mr Chowdhury was remanded in custody on Friday 29 May following a previous hearing and as already served five weeks of the sentence.

The prosecution was brought by AF&RS following an inspection of the Kashmir Tandoori Takeaway at High Street, Portishead, on Wednesday 26 September 2012.

The premises consisted of a takeaway shop on the ground floor with six bedrooms used by staff on the first and second floors. During their inspection officers from Avon Fire & Rescue Service found the lack of fire separation between the sleeping accommodation and the restaurant made the escape route unsafe. There was also no fire alarm and detection system, emergency lighting or fire doors.

A prohibition notice was served restricting the bedrooms being used as sleeping accommodation until work was carried out to remedy the failings. However, during a follow-up inspection on Tuesday 16 October 2012 it was found that at least two bedrooms in the property were being used in breach of the notice.

Following an extensive investigation by Avon Fire & Rescue Service Misbah Uddin Chowdhury was identified as both a leaseholder and licensee; and therefore the person with control of the premises in relation to fire safety regulations.

A prosecution was brought by Avon Fire & Rescue Service against Mr Chowdhury for seven breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

On sentencing His Honour Judge Lambert said: “You chose to allow people to continue sleeping there. Anyone who slept there was sleeping in a death trap. It was sheer luck that no one died. It was utterly irresponsible and entirely illegal. It was an appalling risk to continue. You should have stopped using the premises there and then.”

Station Manager Steve Quinton, from Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s Technical Fire Safety Team said: “We are satisfied with the outcome of the case and believe the sentence sends a strong message to restaurant and takeaway owners in the area.

“Part of the role of the fire and rescue service is to enforce fire safety regulations which ensure public places are safe for customers and staff.

“Sleeping accommodation above a commercial kitchen represents a significant risk to life unless adequate fire protection and alarms are in place.

“Following our first inspection Mr Chowdhury was given the opportunity to rectify the issues identified. His failure to act, and thereby continue to put people’s lives at risk by allowing the bedrooms to be used, was a clear breach of fire safety law.

“Restaurateurs 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 click here