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9th October 2017

Factory Boss Fined After Ignoring Enforcement Notice

The Owner of a former factory has been fined after breaching the requirements of a Fire Safety Prohibition Notice.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) officers inspected a factory called Zigzag in Glastonbury. The premises is a large former three-storey factory, and was found to have all floors in use providing various functions, such as a large kitchen area with LPG gas cooker and wood burning oven on the ground floor; a cinema and art gallery on the first floor and a even yurt located on the second floor used for a place of contemplation!

The inspection identified several serious deficiencies in the fire safety provisions including a lack of a suitable automatic fire detection and warning system, an external stair in such a poor state it was not even safe to use, an internal wooden stair which was open to all levels offering no protection in the event of a fire, excessive travel distances to exits a lack of fire exit signs and lack of emergency lighting. Due to the dangerous conditions found at the premises a Prohibition Notice was served by the visiting fire officer – effectively stopping use of the building until such time as the requirements of the Notice are complied with.

Following the serving of the Prohibition Notice, officers made several visits to the premises as it was recognised that the extent of work and funds available to its owner would mean it may take considerable time to bring the premises up to the required standard. During this time the Prohibition Notice remained in force and the owner was reminded of the requirements of the notice.

A year later, another inspection of the premises was carried out by DSFRS and it found evidence that the requirements of the notice had been breached on a number of occasions. During a subsequent interview, the owner admitted that he had allowed the use of the upper floors even though he knew the Prohibition Notice remained in force!

The owner appeared at Taunton Crown Court on 29 September 2017 and pleaded guilty to breaching the requirements of a Prohibition Notice. He was ordered to pay a fine of £500 and a £500 contribution towards costs incurred by the Fire Authority.

The court heard how the owner was fully aware of the notice and the restrictions imposed on his premises. Without implementing any suitable measures or obtaining advice he allowed the upper floors to be used knowingly putting people at risk. His actions demonstrate a complete disregard to the safety of himself and others.

The decision to serve a prohibition notice is not taken lightly and is only issued where there is a serious and imminent risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire. These must always be followed, or if you don’t agree with what an Officer is requiring, they should be appealed at the earliest opportunity – they should never be ignored though.

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