A Macclesfield take-away owner has been given a 6 month suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to breaches in fire safety.
Mr Nazam Ali, 31, who owns Cheshire Fast Foods on Mill Street in Macclesfield, appeared before Warrington Crown Court on Friday, January 10 after pleading guilty to nine counts of breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The issues at the premises came to a head when a fire broke out in the take-away shop at 10:25pm on June 28 back in 2011.
The fire, which started in the grill, travelled quickly through the building helped by a build up of grease and fat in the extraction ducting.
It was not long before the upstairs flat, where the woman who lived there was asleep, was filled with smoke.
Keith Brooks, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s head of Community Fire Protection explained: “When the crews arrived they found that the woman was trapped on a second floor window ledge unable to escape from the fire that was burning below. She had been woken by her own smoke alarm but had been unable to get out on her own as the escape route was blocked. ”
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus rescued the woman. A father and his two children in the neighbouring flat had also been at home when the fire broke out. They managed to escape via another route.
A subsequent fire investigation revealed some serious failings in fire safety at the premises. This included poor fire separation, blocked escape routes, a lack of firefighting equipment such as fire extinguishers, no emergency lighting and no linked fire alarm system that would have given early warning to those living in the flats if a fire was to break out in the shops below.
Mr Ali was sentenced to 6 months imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. He was ordered to pay £1000 in costs.
Judge Nicolas Woodward described Mr Ali’s actions as a “systematic failure to consider fire safety” and added that the excuse of saying you cannot afford the measures needed was not good enough.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service also prosecuted the owners of the building, MJC Developments Ltd, of Hazel Grove, who let out the flat and the shop.
They pleaded guilty to three offences including a failure to have in place appropriate fire safety arrangements and failing to ensure that in a fire people could evacuate safely. They were fined £5000 for their failings and ordered to pay £2000 costs.
Keith Brooks added: “We welcome the sentence handed out by the Court, as this was a serious breach of fire safety that could have cost someone their life. We aim to help and support any business to operate safely, however we will take action when owners and managers choose not to treat fire safety as a legitimate business requirement. There is simply no excuse for failing to carry out a proper fire risk assessment and making sure you have in place the necessary measures to prevent a potential tragedy.”
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places the responsibility on individuals within an organisation to carry out risk assessments to identify, manage and reduce the risk of fire. It became law on 1 October 2006.