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Reading Leaseholder Sentenced for Fire Safety Breaches

The leaseholder of a flat in Reading has been sentenced to community service for a number of fire safety breaches.

On 9 July 2021, Reading Magistrates’ Court heard that a serious fire broke out in the early hours of 28 November 2018. The fire started in the bedroom of the flat above Istanbul Foods Centre on Oxford Road in Reading. At the time of the fire, the flat was occupied by staff working at Istanbul Foods Centre, who managed to escape the flat before being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

A post-fire investigation by Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) concluded that there were a number of fire safety deficiencies found in the property.

The defendant, Mr Sedat Yilmaz of Oxford Road, Reading, pleaded guilty to five charges contrary to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. He failed to comply with the legal duty to take general fire safety precautions to minimise the risk of fire on the premises. He also failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks, equip the premises with firefighting equipment and adequate fire detectors and alarms. The escape route from the flat was blocked and there was no emergency plan with evacuation procedures.

On 23 November 2021, Reading Crown Court sentenced the defendant to 200 hours of unpaid community service and the Authority was awarded full prosecution costs.

Councillor Colin Dudley, Chairman of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “This sentence sends out a message that leaseholders and landlords must take fire safety seriously. 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.