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27 November 2014
A Nottinghamshire farmer and businessman has been left with a bill of £100,000 after pleading guilty to a variety of fire safety offences – Nottinghamshire Fire Service said that he had been putting the visiting public at risk of death and serious injury for more than two years.
David Chapelhow pleaded guilty to six charges relating to deficiencies in fire risk assessment, means of escape and fire alarms, as well as a failure to comply with Enforcement Notices relating to two properties that he rented out as holiday accommodation.
Fire Protection Officers from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service first visited the premises in 2010, and requested that improvements were made. However, after a re-inspection in 2012, fire safety measures were still inadequate.
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue then issued enforcement notices, requiring work to be carried out to safeguard guests. Subsequent inspections found these had not been complied with.
In passing sentence, Judge Dickinson said the defendant had ignored the advice of fire officers, and ignored repeated warnings. He added that Chapelhow had deliberately and persistently run risks with the lives of others.
He added that he feared it was not about saving money, but more a case of “stubbornness, pig-headedness and picking a fight with fire officers rather than working with them,” that had led to Chapelhow to fail to carry out improvements.
Group manager John Mills, head of fire protection, said: “From the time when our officers first visited Mr Chapelhow’s premises, help and advice has been offered to help him meet his obligations as a landlord and businessman in keeping those people who use his premises safe from fire.
“Had he chosen to follow that advice the issues could have been resolved by Mr Chapelhow quickly and with relatively little cost to either him or the service.
“The fire and rescue service has a statutory duty to ensure that businesses throughout the county provide the correct levels of fire safety and, where possible, we will work with business owners to assist them to comply with current legislation and ensure the safety of their employees and customers.
“This sentence sends a strong message to the owners and managers of premises regarding their legal responsibilities and the potential result of ignoring them, but it also sends a positive message to those conscientious landlords and property managers who ensure their staff and customers are kept safe.”
Chapelhow was fined £22,000 and ordered to pay £78,000 in costs.
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.