The Head of Business Fire Safety at North Wales Fire and Rescue is appealing to those who own, operate or live in mixed commercial and residential premises to consider fire safety as a priority.
This appeal comes after colleagues attended a potentially serious fire at a flat above a takeaway and served a prohibition notice at another premises within the space of a few days last month.
Firefighters were called to a takeaway premises in Towyn to deal with a reports of a fire on the 19th of September. The occupants in the flat above woke up and smelt smoke within the flat, and was thankfully able to get his family out of the property safely. The downstairs shop was heavily smokelogged - a chip warmer had been left switched on and this was producing a lot of smoke. Fire safety issues were identified at the premises, and staff will be working with the business owners to rectify these issues.
The same week, Business Fire Safety staff served a prohibition order on a leaseholder in Holyhead, after concerns were raised about people sleeping above a premises. Due to a number of issues, including the lack of a fire alarm or suitable escape routes from the upper floors, a notice was served on the leaseholder of the premises prohibiting sleeping at the location until the issues have been rectified.
Bob Mason, Head of Business Fire Safety for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said:
“As part of the Service’s licenced premises fire safety campaign which ran in February, we reminded those who own, operate or live in a mixed commercial and residential premises of the importance of basic fire safety considerations.
“This incident in Towyn and the prohibition order served in Holyhead demonstrate how people living or sleeping in these types of properties can be at risk of fire.
“Residential accommodation is often situated above or within commercial premises. Any ﬁre in the commercial premises could affect the residential parts, and at night may go unnoticed until well developed.
“Without adequate fire separation between the two uses, a fire in the shop could result in the loss of a home- and without adequate fire warning arrangements and a safe escape route, a fire in the business could also result in the loss of lives. Occupants must be alerted to a fire and must be able to safely escape from the building.”
Fire Safety Inspectors often encounter dangerous conditions in business premises that could affect areas where people live and sleep, including:
- Access to the sleeping accommodation through the shop
- Storage in escape routes/ escape routes blocked with bins and other waste materials
- Excessive accumulation of combustible items (e.g. cardboard boxes and food cartons)
- Non-existent or inadequate fire detection and warning arrangements
- Locked or difficult to open exits
- Holes in walls, floors and ceilings that can allow smoke and fire spread
- Poor or non-existent cleaning and maintenance of kitchen extraction ducting
- Non-existent or unsuitable fire-fighting equipment
- Non-existent or inadequate inspections and maintenance of electrical installations
Bob added: “If you are responsible for such a premises you are breaking the law if lives are being put at risk. We may inspect your premises as part of our responsibility to enforce the law.
“We can take formal legal enforcement action if you fail to make the necessary improvements to keep people safe. If we find a serious fire risk we can prohibit the use of part or all of the premises; your business may be unable to operate as a result and people living on the premises may have to find somewhere else to stay. You could also face a large fine or imprisonment for breaches of fire safety law.”
If you would like to speak to one of our specialist Business Fire Safety Officers for FREE advice, or if you have any concerns about the safety of people living at such premises, contact your local Fire Safety Office:
Gwynedd/ Môn: 01286 662999 Gwynedd.Mon@nwales-fireservice.org.uk
Flintshire/ Wrexham: 01978 367870 Flintshire.firstname.lastname@example.org
Denbighshire/ Conwy: 01745 352777 Conwy.email@example.com