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Factory boss in the dock for ignoring enforcement notice

03 October 2017

THE OWNER of a former factory has been fined after breaching the requirements of a Prohibition Notice.

In September 2014, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) officers inspected a factory called Zigzag in Glastonbury. The premises, which was a large former three-storey factory, was found to have all floors in use providing various functions, such as a large kitchen area with LPG gas cooker and wood burning oven on the ground floor; a cinema and art gallery on the first floor and a yurt located on the second floor used for a place of contemplation.

The inspection identified several serious deficiencies in the fire safety provisions including a lack of a suitable automatic fire detection and warning system, an external stair in such a poor state it was not safe to use, an internal wooden stair which was open to all levels offering no protection in the event of a fire, excessive travel distances and lack of fire exit signs and lack of emergency lighting. Due to the dangerous conditions found at the premises a Prohibition Notice was served.

Following the serving of the Prohibition Notice, officers made several visits to the premises as it was recognised that the extent of work and funds available to its owner, Christopher Black, would mean it may take considerable time to bring the premises up to the required standard. During this time the Prohibition Notice remained in force and Black was reminded of the requirements of the notice.

In July 2015, another inspection of the premises was carried out by DSFRS and it found evidence that the requirements of the notice had been breached on a number of occasions. During a subsequent interview, Black admitted that he had allowed the use of the upper floors even though he knew the Prohibition Notice remained in force.

Black attended Taunton Crown Court on 29 September and pleaded guilty to breaching the requirements of a Prohibition Notice. He was ordered to pay a fine of £500 and a £500 contribution towards costs incurred by the Fire Authority.

DSFRS business safety manager Paul Bray said: "Mr Black is the owner of the premises and had full control. The decision to serve a prohibition notice is not taken lightly and is only issued where there is a serious and imminent risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire.”

“Mr Black was fully aware of the notice and the restrictions imposed on his premises. Without implementing any suitable measures or obtaining advice he allowed the upper floors to be used knowingly putting people at risk. His actions demonstrate a complete disregard to the safety of himself and others.”