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February 12, 2010

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Pub company fined for multiple fire-safety breaches

A pub management company has been convicted of breaching fire safety law by North Wiltshire magistrates.

Sitting on 9 February, the magistrates fined Publicana Ltd £5000 for each of four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. In light of the company’s early guilty plea, however, the total fine was reduced to £15,000. Publicana was also ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs.

The offences came to light after Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service attended an incident at the Little George pub in New Road, Chippenham on 5 October 2008.

An investigation by officers from the Service’s technical fire safety department discovered that fire doors and fire exits had been screwed shut, or left propped open, escape routes were obstructed, and fire-protection systems had not been maintained. Consequently, Publicana Ltd — as the tenant at that time — was charged with failing to carry out or record a fire risk assessment, and failure to have effective protection policies and prevention measures in place.

It was also charged with failing to provide suitable and sufficient information for the licensee it had contracted to run the pub on its behalf. Separate charges are being pursued against this individual in connection with the case.

Group manager of Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service’s technical fire safety department, Julian Parsons, said: “It is rare for a fire and rescue service to undertake prosecutions but, on this occasion, the offences were so severe we felt it was in the public interest to pursue charges.

“What this case has shown very clearly is that management companies always have a duty to ensure that public safety is not compromised, even if they have sub-contracted someone to act as licensee.”

He added: “Since these offences came to light, the Little George pub has changed management, and subsequent inspections have shown that the issues highlighted by this case have been addressed. In addition, Publicana Ltd, which was cooperative throughout the investigation, has introduced stringent new management procedures to ensure that something like this does not happen again in premises it is responsible for.”

This story originally appeared on our sister site, www.info4fire.com

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