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Successful prosecution following serious fire safety breaches

A successful prosecution was brought by Royal Berkshire Fire Authority against a business owner following a number of serious fire safety breaches.

The then business owner – Mr Sharhan Safie of Paya Restaurant, London Street in Reading, pleaded guilty to nine charges all relating to breaches of the Fire Safety Order at Reading Magistrates Court on 8 November 2019.

Following a fire safety inspection, officers found a number of serious breaches, including failure to protect the means of escape, a lack of sufficient fire doors or fire doors that were in place were in a poor state of repair, no suitable fire alarm system, no fire safety drill procedure, defective emergency lighting, amongst other breaches.

Mr Safie then failed to undertake a fire risk assessment and to make adequate fire safety arrangements following the inspection from our team.

Given the serious nature of the breaches, the case was sent to Crown Court for sentencing. On 3 July 2020, the defendant was sentenced to a seven-month custody, suspended for 18 months, at least 10 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirement Order, 180 hours of unpaid community work, which will begin once the COVID-19 control measures are eased and a £2,000 fine.

Jess James, Group Manager for the Fire Safety Legal, Technical and Enforcement Hub, said: “This prosecution highlights that while we will always seek to work with business owners to maintain fire safety standards in premises with prosecution considered as a last resort, we do also have a duty to keep our communities safe and this case is evidence that if our residents are put at risk, we won’t hesitate to prosecute.”

As well as conducting inspections, RBFRS provides comprehensive advice and this is available free on its website. You can find out more about business safety on the RBFRS website