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Successful prosecution realised in wake of “serious” fire safety breaches

01 October 2020

A SUCCESSFUL prosecution was brought by the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority against a business owner following a number of serious fire safety breaches.

The (then) business owner, namely Sharhan Safie of the Paya Restaurant, London Street in Reading, pleaded guilty to nine charges all relating to breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Reading Magistrates Court on 8 November last year.

Following a fire safety inspection, officers found a number of serious breaches, including failure to protect the means of escape, a lack of sufficient fire doors (or fire doors that were in place were in a poor state of repair), no suitable fire alarm system, no fire safety drill procedure and defective emergency lighting (among other breaches).

Safie then failed to undertake a fire risk assessment and to make adequate fire safety arrangements following the inspection conducted by a specialist team from the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Given the serious nature of the breaches, the case was sent to Crown Court for sentencing. On 3 July this year, the defendant was sentenced to a seven-month custody, suspended for 18 months, as well as at least ten days of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement Order, 180 hours of unpaid community work (which will begin once the Government’s COVID-19 control measures are eased) and a £2,000 fine.

Jess James, Group manager for the Fire Safety Legal, Technical and Enforcement Hub, explained: “This prosecution highlights that, while we will always seek to work with business owners to maintain fire safety standards in premises with prosecution considered as a last resort, we do also have a Duty of Care to keep our communities safe. This case provides ample evidence that, if our residents are put at risk, we will not hesitate to prosecute.”