A Durham businessman has been prosecuted by fire chiefs for failing to ensure the safety of residents.
Kaiser Javeed Choudry and his company, Hayat Accommodation Service Limited, were fined a total of £8,866 and ordered to pay costs of £12,000 to County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Authority, in connection with two separate fires at The Albert Guest House in Shotton Colliery.
Peterlee Magistrates Court passed the sentence after Hayat Accommodation Services Limited and Choudry, its company director, pleaded guilty to eight charges of failing to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
In an interview conducted by fire officers, Choudry, from Shotton Colliery, admitted that he was in control of the day-to-day running of the house of multiple occupation and had failed to ensure the safety of the residents.
During the first fire in January 2015, self-closing fire doors had been wedged open which allowed fire to spread throughout the building preventing escape routes from being used.
At the time of the second fire, in May 2015, the fire detection and warning system had not been properly maintained and the premises’ fire risk assessment had not taken account of the persons within the premises.
Three adults were rescued by firefighters from the first floor of the premises during the first fire and residents were discovered in a part of the building that should have been unoccupied during the second fire in May 2015.
Stuart Errington, chief fire officer for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said: “I would urge those responsible for any building being used as a business to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment, to determine whether they are compliant with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
"The decision to prosecute was not taken lightly; we start from the point of supporting and educating businesses to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities and how they can meet them. In this case, warnings were not heeded and there was a serious risk to the occupants; public safety dictated a prosecution.
"The risks, reflected in the charges to which guilty pleas were entered, were attributable directly to the failures of Mr Choudry and his company. I am therefore pleased with the outcome of the case as both fires could have so easily resulted in multiple fatalities.”
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to all non-domestic premises in England and Wales and a responsible person must carry out a fire safety risk assessment, as well as implement and maintain a fire management plan.
For more information relating to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 visit www.ddfire.gov.uk or 0845 223 4221.