Small business owners in Greater Manchester have been warned about the importance of upholding fire safety laws after a newsagent in the region was handed a fine.
Yakub Patel, who runs Hayhurst News on Walshaw Road in Bury, pleaded guilty to four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Appearing at Bury and Rochdale Magistrates Court on Thursday January 10th 2013, he was issued a £1,000 fine and ordered to pay costs of £1,994.
Inspectors from the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority visited Mr Patel’s store in July 2011 and found that the second floor of the three-storey building was being used as a flat, while the first floor housed an office and a store room.
There was no fire alarm inside the building and the only means of escape from these upper floors had been left unprotected from smoke or the spread of fire.
Furthermore, the back gate leading out of the premises was secured with a padlock, which meant that in the event of a blaze anyone attempting to escape would have been trapped in the yard.
Mr Patel also admitted that he had not carried out a fire risk assessment on the property – something that is mandatory for owners of all commercial premises in England and Wales under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Officers served a prohibition notice preventing the 61-year-old from using the second floor and restricting his use of the second floor, with which he complied.
He has since arranged for work to be carried out inside the shop to rectify the problems identified and had a fire alarm fitted.
These actions were taken into account when magistrates issued his fines.
“Unfortunately Mr Patel has learned the hard way that as a business you must consider fire safety,” said Peter O’Reilly, director of protection and prevention at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
“I would urge all small businesses to review their fire risk assessments and if they don’t have one to do it as soon as possible.”