Wallingford restaurant owner fined for series of fire safety breaches
25 April 2021
THE OWNER of a Tandoori restaurant and takeaway in Wallingford has been fined for multiple breaches of fire-safety legislation which put lives in danger. The case was heard at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court.
Fire safety inspectors from Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service visited the premises in May 2019, whereupon they found that the business owner, Mr Zaman, had failed to ensure there was an adequate risk assessment of fire and had also failed to protect escape routes in case of fire. In addition, there were insufficient working fire alarms.
The restaurant was operating on the ground floor and had several bedrooms above the premises over two upper floors. Following a complaint that fire safety measures were insufficient, a fire safety audit was conducted under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and inspectors found that the premises were so dangerous that they were left with no alternative but to prohibit the use of the building for sleeping until safety measures were improved. As a consequence, they ordered the immediate removal of tenants on safety grounds by use of a Prohibition Notice so that it could not be used for sleeping or resting.
An investigation resulted in Mr Zaman appearing in court Thursday 1 April when he was found guilty of four charges under the fire safety legislation and fined (for two of those charges) a total of £1,640 with costs of £1,000. The low level of the fine reflected Mr Zaman’s current financial situation.
Chris Wilson from Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, who attended the premises on the date of the inspection, said: “We are finding an increasing number of restaurants and takeaways with sleeping accommodation above them, but where no fire safety measures have been implemented. Business owners have a legal duty to put fire safety measures in place.”
The issuing of a Prohibition Notice restricts the use of any premises providing accommodation that does not meet the accepted standards of fire safety. ‘Responsible Persons’ – ie business owners or employers – must accept the fact that they have a Duty of Care to ensure the accommodation they provide is both safe and suitable.