Warning to businesses
Business owners across the county are being advised to pay attention to their legal obligations to keep staff, customers and premises safe from fire, after a Nottingham businessman was convicted for breaches to Fire Safety legislation at his factory premises.
Mr Mohammed Munir was sentenced to 26 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 180 hours unpaid work and to pay £4,000 in costs by Nottingham Crown Court after pleading guilty to a series of breaches of Fire Safety requirements at Trent Valley Trading in Wigman Road. Sentencing Mr Munir, His Honour Judge Lea said that the court could not put too high a price on life and that he had put the needs of the business over employee safety. Many of the measures, he said, were inexpensive.
The Defence conceded that the offences would justify a custodial sentence. The Judge said he had been minded to impose a nine month sentence but, in light of the particular mitigation, he reduced it and suspended it.
Following concerns by operational fire crews, Fire Protection Officers from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) visited the premises and identified a number of areas which required rectifying; these were so serious that an Enforcement Notice was issued.
Officers visited the premises on subsequent occasions to assess progress and advise Mr Munir on achieving a satisfactory standard of Fire Safety to protect his employees in the event of a fire. They agreed to allow Mr Munir additional time to comply with the Enforcement Notice.
Mr Munir was prosecuted when it became apparent that he had ignored the deadline and continued to trade without ensuring his premises were safe.
Today, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service is reminding all owners and occupiers of buildings of their legal responsibility to protect their staff and customers against the risk of fire, and warning that they will take action against anyone found to be in breach Fire Safety regulations and where they fail to comply with any statutory notices issued.
Neil Williamson, Fire Protection Station Manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We are here to advise and give support to local businesses and are always willing to help make sure they comply with Fire Safety legislation. However, the public should continue to be reassured that we take any breaches of Fire Safety very seriously and will use legal sanctions where necessary.
“In this case, my officers had previously spent some time ensuring that the occupier was aware of his responsibilities and duties to ensure the safety of employees and it is disappointing that he chose to place people at risk from fire. The absence of a Fire Risk Assessment is a particularly bad aspect of this case, especially after numerous reminders.”
Further fire safety advice and guidance upon all types of premises is available at the CLG website: http://www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw/
Help regarding Fire Safety in non-domestic premises is available from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety advice line on 0115 957 5231 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
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NOTES TO NEWS DESKS
The specific wording of the charges to which Mr Munir pleaded guilty is:
- failed to comply with the requirements imposed by an Enforcement Notice
- failed to comply with Article 9 of the Order in that he failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions
- failed to comply with Article 14(2)(b) of the Order to ensure that there was an effective means of escape from the premises, in that the company failed to ensure in the event of danger, that it was possible for persons to evacuate the premises as quickly and as safely as possible, as there was inadequate compartmentation at the premises
- failed to comply with Article 14(1) of the Order in that where it was necessary in order to safeguard the safety of relevant persons, the company failed to ensure that routes to emergency exits from premises and the exits themselves were kept clear at all times, as exits and exit routes from the premises were obstructed with combustible materials
- failed to ensure that emergency routes and exits requiring illumination were provided with emergency lighting of adequate intensity in the case of failure of their normal lighting, in that emergency lighting at the premises was not adequate
- failed to comply with Article 13(1)(b) of the Order in that the company failed to ensure that non-automatic fire-fighting equipment provided was easily accessible, simple to use and indicated by signs