15 December 2014

A manager of a boarding house in Wokingham has been found guilty of breaching fire safety legislation and fined £750 plus a £75 victim surcharge, as well as being ordered to pay costs to Royal Berkshire Fire Authority of £1500.

The Authority brought the charge under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 for a failure to comply with a Requisition Notice, which required the person responsible for fire safety at the boarding house to be identified. 

The court heard that between November 2013 and August 2014, the defendant continued to breach fire safety regulations by failing to comply with the Notice, despite being given numerous opportunities. 

He had also failed to appear before the court on three previous occasions to answer the charge, and was again absent on the day in question. 

David Walden, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s Fire Safety Legal Services Manager, said: “The legislation makes it very clear that accountability for fire safety in commercial premises must lie with a named person, who is responsible for managing the fire-risks associated with the building. 

“Failure to do so can put lives at risk, especially in establishments such as boarding houses where people sleep on the premises and are therefore potentially even more vulnerable to fire.

“As this case has shown, there is no excuse for not providing information about the nominated responsible person to the Fire Authority when requested.

“I hope that this sends a clear message that people who fail to take their fire safety obligations seriously will be held to account.”

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.

Original sources

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service

Bracknell News