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Store owner ignored requests for fire safety audit

11 July 2017

THE OWNER of a convenience store in Sunderland has been ordered to pay £1,700 after pleading guilty to failing to comply with the requirements of Article 27 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) visited Ray’s Discount Store in Villette Road in Hendon on 23 August 2016 to carry out a fire safety audit. However, as there was only one staff member present and store owner Usman Ali was unavailable, it was not possible to conduct the audit.

Despite every effort by officers to contact Mr Ali by telephone and in writing, he failed repeatedly to co-operate by disregarding requests for appointments. Article 27 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 gives fire officers the power to require the owner of a business to allow them full access to inspect the premises and provide information in relation to fire precautions.

Earlier this year, Mr Ali did not attend the initial court hearing and, after deciding to proceed in his absence, Sunderland magistrates found the case brought against him by Tyne and Wear Fire Authority proven on 29 March 2017.

Ali attended Sunderland Magistrates’ Court on 28 June and was fined a total of £1,700 for failing to reply to Article 27 letters sent by TWFRS and was also ordered to pay £600 in costs. TWFRS area manager Keith Carruthers said: “We only prosecute as a last resort and give business owners every opportunity to comply before enforcement action is taken.

“It is always our preferred option to work closely with the business community to provide education and information, ensuring the safest environment for their employees and customers. But where necessary we will not hesitate to exercise our legal powers to ensure the safety of the public and our firefighters.

“We welcome the court’s decision in this case and hope that it serves as a reminder to other businesses that they have a duty to respond to our requests for information.”