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19th June 2018

Business owner jailed for Fire Safety breaches

What’s happened?

Despite repeated warning from the Fire and Rescue Service, a businessman and owner of a 14th century wedding venue in Crewe, Cheshire, has recently been sentenced to 20 months’ jail for breaching Fire Safety regulations.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service visited the Haslington Hall site which is a Grade 1 listed timber-framed building. Following the inspection, they decided to serve the owner with several enforcement notices in order to address a number of fire safety deficiencies found following the inspection. However, the owner did not take action to address these issues.

Two years later the fire service then visited a structure in the venue’s grounds, known as the “Big Marquee”, utilised for weddings and other gatherings. Once again they found serious breaches in fire safety. As a result, this time a prohibition notice was issued for the owner to immediately stop using the marquee, which he ignored on at least three occasions!

Wait there’s more….. The most recent breaches occurred when the Fire Offices discovered that the owner was found to be using the second floor of the main hall as sleeping accommodation. He failed to review the fire risk assessment following this change and there were inadequate detectors, alarms, firefighting equipment and escape routes for the area.

In Court

Rather unsurprisingly after reading the catalogue of errors outlined above, the Fire and Rescue Service decided to prosecute the owner for breaches under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order, and for failing to comply with the improvement and prohibition notices issued on the building.

The owner attended court and subsequently pleaded guilty to nine charges placed against him.

The honorary Recorder of Chester, Judge Roger Dutton, told the owner that the breaches were “flagrant” and put the public at risk.

He said: “These are very serious breaches. After all, should a disaster happen it is the fire service who have to put the lives of their employees at risk to save lives of the public.

“A more flagrant breach of the legislation there cannot be in my view. You simply ignored many of the important aspects of the enforcement notices and completely ignored two prohibition notices – there to ensure the public is not placed at risk.” The owner was given a prison sentence of 20 months.

 

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