Restaurateur given six month jail sentence for breach of fire safety laws

 

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) has welcomed the outcome of a court case in which a restaurateur from Weston-super-Mare received a six month custodial sentence for failing to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

At a hearing on Friday 29 July, Mr Zamshed Alam, who was the leaseholder and responsible person for the Bengal Raj restaurant on the Boulevard in Weston-super-Mare, pleaded guilty to eight offences under the Fire Safety Order, including two breaches of a Prohibition Notice.

He was sentenced to six months in prison at Bristol Crown Court and ordered to pay £1,500 towards the costs of the prosecution.

The case was brought following a fire safety inspection by Avon Fire & Rescue Service in July 2015 when breaches of the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order were discovered.

Due to the condition of the premises and the lack of fire safety provisions, a Prohibition Notice was served on the Mr Alam restricting the premises from any sleeping or resting. During a second inspection in August 2015 two separate breaches of the Prohibition Notice were discovered.

Included within the charges was:

  • A failure to have a suitable fire risk assessment.
  • A failure to ensure the premises was equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms.
  • A failure to ensure that emergency routes and exits were fitted with adequate fire doors so that people could escape safely in the event of fire.
  • The storage of items in the single means of escape route staircase on both the ground and first floor.
  • A failure to comply with a notice prohibiting the use of the premises for sleeping accommodation.

On sentencing His Honour Judge Patrick said there was “clear evidence” the premises had been used as sleeping accommodation following the serving of the prohibition notice. He added: “Mr Alam deliberately ignored warnings and advice from the fire service and had a fire occurred it would have been difficult for employees to leave.”

Station Manager Steve Quinton, Technical Fire Safety Manager at AF&RS, said: “The sentence handed out by the judge should serve as a warning to any business of how seriously breaches of fire safety law are taken.

“As the responsible person, Mr Alam had a duty of care to his customers, staff and those sleeping in the building. Without adequate fire safety measures he put lives at risk.

“All businesses are required to comply with fire safety legislation and I hope this case demonstrates our commitment to protect the lives of people in our community.

“We always try to work with business to improve safety and avoid the need to prosecute, however Mr Alam wilfully ignored two Prohibition Notices by continuing to allow people to sleep in a property which had completely inadequate means of escape.

“Had there been a fire at the premises I’m in little doubt lives would have been lost.”

Sarah Allen, Group Manager for North Somerset at AF&RS said: “We are committed to ensuring the safety of all those living and working in Weston-super-Mare. Part of the role of the fire and rescue service is to enforce the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and ensure all business premises and public places comply so people are safe when inside.”

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 risk assessment and implement and maintain a fire management plan.

AF&RS works closely with businesses to ensure they comply with the regulations and staff 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 the Business Safety section of our website.