A court case in which a Shropshire takeaway owner was ordered to pay more than £2,500 in fines and costs should stand as a warning to other business owners to ensure they comply with their legal obligations for fire safety at business premises, warned a senior fire officer.
People were put at risk of death or serious injury because the owner failed to comply with fire regulations, warned Watch Manager Martin Huckle, of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s risk reduction team.
“We strive to work with Shropshire businesses and other organisations to create a safe and prosperous community and we ensure our actions are fair and proportionate to the risk involved. But where there is a serious and imminent risk we will serve a prohibition notice so as to protect life.
“Non compliance with a prohibition notice is an offence and we will take legal action on the person or company responsible.”
The New Wan Loy Chinese takeaway in Cross Street, Ellesmere, had no fire alarm or means of escape as required under Government legislation. The owner also failed to comply with a prohibition notice issued by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service ordering that the fire safety requirements for a public building were met.
Owner Chi Shan Chan was fined a total of £900 for the three offences and ordered to pay £1,715 costs when he admitted the charges at Shrewsbury Magistrates Court last month. All the required work was satisfactorily completed before the court hearing.
The court heard that fire officers found “serious” fire safety deficiencies during a fire safety audit with an inadequate means of escape from the upper floors of the takeaway, no fire alarm or fire detector system and no fire risk assessment had been done.
“If a fire occurred in the kitchen there would be no warning to persons on the upper floors and the only escape route would be cut off, leaving people trapped above the fire,” said Mr Huckle.
Staff were sleeping in the upper floors of the three storey terraced takeaway in direct contravention to the prohibition notice, he said.
“It is clear that the business was being run with a total disregard for fire safety matters and the legal requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO).”
Current legislation was introduced by the Government six years ago to help safeguard all workplace premises from fire. The RRO requires that a “responsible person” in the company must carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and act on its findings. The fire and rescue service carries out audits at business premises to ensure fire regulations are complied with.
Appropriate fire alarm systems, escape routes, evacuation plans and fire extinguishers, together with regular employee training were essential in all business premises.