Guest house owner prosecuted for fire safety breaches

Guest house owner prosecuted for fire safety breaches

The owner of a guest house has been fined a total of £3,000 for breaching fire safety regulations.

An inspection of Wokingham Guest House on Oxford Road, Berkshire revealed numerous failings in regards to fire safety. These included inadequate maintenance of the emergency lighting system and fire-resistant doors, and the fact that a suitable fire risk assessment had not been carried out, according to the Reading Post.

In addition, the fire protection provision for an escape route was deemed to be unsatisfactory by the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority after its investigation, which took place between February 11th and September 16th 2013.

Derrick Rands, who jointly owned the property with his wife Linda, appeared before Reading Magistrates Court last Wednesday (March 5th), accused of five charges under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

District Judge Andrew Vickers, who presided over the case, heard that as many as 24 people’s lives had been put in danger – either at risk of death or serious injury from a blaze – due to these breaches.

Mr Rands conceded he had breached fire safety regulation between February and September 2013, as a result of his failure to comply with an enforcement notice that had been issued.

He was made to pay £3,000 – a £1,550 fine, £1,400 in court costs and a £50 victim surcharge.

Elsewhere in the UK, a landlord that rented out bedsits above a car workshop in Mitcham, south-west London, was prosecuted on March 5th and ordered to pay £25,000 in fines for similar breaches.

An inspection by London Fire Brigade discovered the fire separation of the bedsits was “wholly inadequate” and that only one escape route was in operation from the commercial premises.

Furthermore, there was no fire risk assessment, no emergency lighting and a lack of fire safety arrangements between the commercial and residential sections of the property.

One issue with such ‘beds in sheds’ properties is they are much more susceptible to blazes, as those tenants may be more inclined to turn to riskier ways of cooking, lighting and heating.

Commercial buildings, non-domestic and multi-occupancy premises in England and Wales are already forced to undertake a ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire risk assessment carried out under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

While the overwhelming majority of premises do this, if the assessment is thought to have been carried out to an insufficient extent, the Responsible Person can face an unlimited fine or up to two years in prison.

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