Friday 25 May 2012

Fashion store owner convicted after ‘catalogue of failings’

The owner of a fashion store has been fined for seven breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Joel Lever pleaded guilty to the offences at Bury and Rochdale magistrates court on 17 May, following an inspection of Mon Amie Studios in Bury Old Road, Prestwich, in April 2011.

When officers arrived at the two-storey shop, they discovered a metal roller shutter covering a front door. Two doors at the back were also blocked by shutters, meaning that had a fire occurred, none of these doors could have been used to escape. The doors were not only blocked by the shutters but were also locked and the access routes were obstructed by furniture, an old till and various boxes.

Although there was a fire alarm in the building it had not been serviced or maintained and did not extend to an office on the first floor. The office had windows which were barred on the outside, meaning that there was no way of detecting or giving warning if a fire occurred in the room. Fire extinguishers had not been serviced on an annual basis, with one last serviced in 1996, many of the escape routes were blocked by clothing rails, boxes and furniture, and a fire exit door was locked.

Staff told the officers inspecting that they had not had training and one staff member did not know where the fire exits were.

Officers were so concerned about the lack of escape routes and risk to staff and customers that a prohibition notice was served on the same day, restricting the use of the shop to within 20 metres of a an open door.
The court heard that when officers returned the following day there was nothing to stop customers wandering round the shop and some of the fire exits remained blocked.

Mr Lever was fined a total of £5,200 for two of the offences (failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and failure to comply with a prohibition notice) with no separate penalties for the others. He was also ordered to pay costs of £3,178.

Peter O'Reilly, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's director of prevention and protection, said: "This shop presented a catalogue of failings which together could've proved fatal. Mr Lever was responsible for undertaking a fire risk assessment for his shop and failed to do so, putting staff and customers at great risk. The locking of fire doors is totally unacceptable and common sense dictates that routes to and through fire exits should be kept clear. The fact that he'd installed fire extinguishers but failed to have them regularly tested indicates a complete disregard for fire safety."

Source: Info4Fire

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