19 August 2014

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service has successfully prosecuted a landlord and business following a fire in a premises in Newport.

The building, which had a shop on the ground floor and flats above it, caught fire in May 2012. An occupant of one of the flats was taken to hospital. 

Landlord Jeffrey Colin Bufton was fined £18,000 by Cwmbran magistrates court after pleading guilty to eleven charges of failing to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Bufton had failed to carry out a fire risk assessment or provide protection between the flats and the shop. There were no fire detectors or alarms installed at the property and inadequate fire doors on the first floor.

The shop was occupied by Alpha Crime and Fire Prevention Limited, which was fined £24,000 after admitting six breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The company had not carried out a fire risk assessment. Combustible material had been stored in a cupboard housing electrical apparatus and a gas meter. There were holes in the ceiling between the shop and the flats which posed a risk of allowing fire to spread. The staircase which provided the sole escape route for the flat residents did not have adequate protection.

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.