Fire safety warning to small businesses after newsagent fined

Small businesses have been warned not to ignore fire safety after the owner of a Greater Manchester newsagent was convicted for fire safety offences.

Yakup Patel failed to carry out a fire risk assessment, provide a fire alarm or a means of escape from fire.

Bury and Rochdale Magistrates’ Court heard on 10 January that Mr Patel, who runs Hayhurst News in Bury, Lancashire, had not provided a fire alarm inside the shop or on the first or second floors of the three-storey building that were used as an office/store room and flat respectively.

The court was told that when officers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority (GMFRA) inspected the premises in July 2011, they found that there was no fire alarm inside the building.

The only escape route from the upper floors was not protected from smoke or the spread of fire.

In addition, the back gate was padlocked, so that anyone trying to escape from a fire at the back of the building would find themselves trapped in a small back yard.

Officers served a prohibition notice preventing Mr Patel from using the second floor and restricting his use of the first floor to storage only, with which he complied.

In mitigation, Mr Patel said he took the matter seriously and had immediately taken remedial action. He had since spent over £32,000 on the premises and had installed a fire alarm system beyond the level required.

"Unfortunately Mr Patel has learned the hard way that as a business you must consider fire safety," said Peter O'Reilly, director of protection and prevention at GMFRA, who took the prosecution. As a result of his ignorance, he now has a criminal record.

"I would urge all small businesses to review their fire risk assessments and if they don't have one to do it as soon as possible."

Mr Patel pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and was fined a total of £1,000. Costs of £1,994 were also awarded against him. Source: Info4Fire

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