20 April 2015
Manchester shisha bar boss, Samir Makim, has been fined £10,000, plus ordered to pay more than £5,000 in costs, and perform 150 hours of community service, after being found guilty of flagrantly ignoring fire safety regulations.
Propane gas cylinders blocking escape routes, a broken smoke alarm, covered smoke detectors, a lack of fire exits and electricity cables littering the floor, rendered the shisha bar not only dangerous for patrons, but also put neighbouring properties at risk of an explosion, the court heard.
Sentencing Makim, Judge Richard Mansell said that he thought it was “highly likely” that there would have been deaths should a fire have broken out and that the propane gas cylinders could have caused a huge explosion in the event of a blaze.
A fire inspection in 2013 revealed the lack of fire safety equipment or systems and fire officers had ordered Makim to make the premises safer. However, when fire and police officers attended five months later, they found customers were still using all parts of the smoke-filled den and that no fire safety improvements had been made. Makim had even moved a tenant in upstairs.
Prosecutor Elizabeth Dudley-Jones told the sentencing hearing: “Propane is a highly flammable gas with obvious potential to explode. Such an explosion would be extremely dangerous and could cause widespread damage and potential injury, not only to people in the building. The potential blast zone would have been large.”
Judge Mansell said: ”His attitude showed utter contempt. He hadn’t spared any expense on his hookahs, but he couldn’t be bothered to fix the smoke alarm.”
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.