A WIDNES businessman has been fined for serious breaches in fire safety after converting an industrial unit into flats without notifying the authorities.
Colin Duncan, aged 57, of Highmarsh Crescent, Newton-le-Willows appeared in Warrington Magistrates on Thursday, March 6, where he pleaded guilty to eight counts of breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The offences related to Kenyon Court in Wellington Street, Widnes, a property that was owned by Kenyon Court Properties Ltd, but was operated by Mr Duncan and his business partner Paul Wallace, who is already serving a prison sentence for an unrelated matter.
The property had once been an industrial unit but had been transformed into a house in multiple occupation without the knowledge of any regulatory bodies or the necessary fire safety measures being implemented.
Keith Brooks, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service’s head of community fire protection said: “The issues at Kenyon Court were first brought to our attention by staff from Halton Council who raised concerns with us about the state of the property.
“When we visited a number of issues were highlighted that included a lack of adequate fire separation between rooms, inadequate standard of fire alarm, inadequate means of escape from the premises, combustibles being stored and blocking the means of escape. It was clear to us that the lack of fire safety was certainly risking the lives of those living and sleeping at the premises.”
Duncan was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 costs. He was shown some leniency because the other partner wasn’t there to take some of the blame.
The charges he was guilty of are as follows:
• Not carrying out a fire risk assessment
• Not having any fire safety arrangements or management in place
• Failing to ensure appropriate firefighting equipment and fire alarms were in place
• Not ensuring that exit routes led directly to a place of safety
• Failing to ensure it was possible for people to evacuate as quickly and as safely as possible
• Failing to provide emergency lighting
• Failing to maintain firefighting equipment and fire alarms
• Failing to comply with a prohibition notice.
Mr Brooks added: “We to help and support any business to operate safely, however we will take action when owners and managers choose not to treat fire safety as a legitimate business requirement. The Service will continue to take action when businesses, large or small, do not take their fire safety responsibilities seriously.”
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is calling on all landlords and business owners to take their fire safety obligations seriously to avoid prosecution. It is also urging any tenants who have concerns about fire safety to get in touch.