Restaurant owner fined for fire safety breaches

The former owner of a restaurant in Sunderland has been fined more than £5,000 for fire safety breaches.
Jahangir Quereshi’s Thai Manor was found guilty of such failings at Newcastle Crown Court, although he was not sent to jail, the Sunderland Echo reports.
It transpired the four-storey building was not simply being used a restaurant. In fact, the premises were being used as accommodation for four members of staff in the basement and students on the first and second floor.
There was a catalogue of breaches of fire safety regulations. In the basement, one smoke alarm had been taped up, while one entrance was obstructed in part. The bedrooms that were being occupied by the students were in close proximity to the kitchens and there was a distinct lack of any smoke alarms.
One fire exit had been secured via the means of a cycle lock, while another was double bolted. This meant that, if a blaze were to break out, these fire safety devices would have been futile. The Echo previously reported that Mr Quereshi claimed this was in an attempt to hinder any burglary attempts.
Furthermore, such means of escape were also partially restricted by possessions and various items of clothing.
At a hearing that had taken place beforehand, prosecutor Michael Graham denounced the premises’ lax view of safety by revealing those in the upstairs rooms would not be able to hear the smoke alarm on the ground floor.
“There were no means of warning people on the upper floors, who would have been unaware of the situation and potentially asleep,” he said.
No fire risk assessment had been carried out by the Responsible Person, while the extinguishers had not been adequately maintained. In addition, it became apparent that members of staff had not been suitably trained in fire safety precautions.
After a raid of the premises that took place towards the end of last year, fire safety station manager Richard Rickaby revealed just how dangerous the circumstances were. As there was no record that anyone was living above the restaurant, a potential blaze could have had disastrous consequences.
“In terms of fire safety, they were very serious offences, because it was across the whole plethora of fire safety and it was not just one deficiency.
“It had the potential for the fire to go unnoticed and for the fire to spread. It did have the potential to have fatalities.”
Mr Quereshi, who lives in Hendon, admitted eight fire safety breaches and will have to pay £5,000 in costs and an £80 victim surcharge. He was also given a four-month suspended prison sentence.
Area manager for community safety Kevin Gardner criticised the lack of fire safety precautions, revealing the breaches at Thai Manor could have jeopardised the wellbeing of employees, customers and the students.
He warned that in such cases, the service had no qualms about using its legal powers to make sure the public and the fire brigade’s welfare was not being harmed.
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.

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