Fines and prosecutions Shop manager sentenced for fire safety failings

A NEWSAGENT manager was given a suspended prison sentence, following a serious fire at his shop which injured a resident upstairs and three firefighters. London Fire Brigade (LFB)

reported on the prosecution of Mian Zafar, who owns Hardings Newsagent, following a fire in November 2013. LFB firefighters were called and initially ‘there were no flames visible outside but there was smoke inside the property’, while two firefighters searched flats above. The building was a house in multiple occupation (HMO), and the two firefighters found one casualty on the staircase and got them out, but then returned inside to resume their search. While searching, conditions

‘rapidly deteriorated’ and their exit was blocked. One of the two firefighters suffered serious burns, and both needed to be rescued by colleagues through a first floor window. A post fire inspection for fire safety discovered that the building had ‘no working heat or smoke alarms’, no emergency escape plan and no fire risk assessment; all being breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 [FSO].


As a consequence, both

a prohibition notice and an enforcement notice were issued, with Mr Zafar then prosecuted under the FSO, and he admitted to the three breaches in court in March this year. At Southwark Crown Court, Mr Zafar was given 12 months in custody, suspended for two years, and was also ordered to pay a fine of £5,000 and costs of £10,000. Lee Drawbridge, LFB’s deputy

assistant commissioner for fire safety, stated: ‘Fire safety is not something to be taken lightly. The fire safety breaches found at this premises meant the residents of the flats above

were in obvious danger as there were no working smoke alarms throughout the building and the premises did not have a sufficient fire risk assessment. ‘This was a very serious fire which

could have had fatal consequences if it was not for the quick and brave actions of all the firefighters who attended on the night. We want to work with building owners to help them meet their safety responsibilities, but where we find breaches which place the public and our firefighters at serious risk, we will do all we can with other relevant agencies to ensure that responsible individuals are prosecuted.’

Fire safety failures found at property

LANDLORD TOM Wallace pleaded guilty to fire safety and licensing regulations breaches at his property in Hastings.

Hastings Observer reported on the

prosecution of Mr Wallace regarding his property on Carisbrooke Road in Hastings, where he is the freeholder. Hastings Borough Council’s housing enforcement team inspected the property in July 2017, and found that the building had no fire alarm system or emergency lighting, while some areas of the building’s escape route did not provide 30 minutes’ fire protection. As a consequence of these issues, an improvement notice was served. This notice required that a fire

detection system and emergency lighting system be fitted, and as the building was a house in multiple

occupation (HMO), there are rules ‘regarding its management to ensure the building is maintained to a level which safeguards the health and safety of the people who live there’. Evidence from the inspection also

highlighted that the property ‘was not being managed in accordance’ with HMO regulations. Later, it was discovered that he had not complied with the improvement notice, and therefore the council decided to prosecute him.

He pleaded guilty to failing to comply with the improvement notice, as well as failing to comply with a ‘range’ of regulations under licensing and management responsibilities he held as a landlord. He was fined £13,000 for the 13 offences, and was ordered to

pay costs of £432, alongside a victim surcharge of £100, with the penalty ordered to be repaid within 14 days. Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing, said: ‘We welcome the outcome of this case and hope it sends a clear message to those responsible for managing or renting property that failing to comply with responsibilities placed on them will not go unchallenged when discovered.

‘It is unacceptable that residents

live in properties which do not have a working fire detection system installed, suitable for the type of building they live in. Early warning of a fire and the ability to exit the property safely can mean the difference between escaping unharmed and far more serious consequences.’ DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 13

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