A director of Maureen O’Brien Ltd (the company which formerly owned the high street chain Joy) Girish Chadha, was fined £5,500 in both fines and costs for 11 contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
A fire safety inspection was carried out in July 2007 at Joy’s headquarters at 432 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton. The inspecting officer found a number of fire safety contraventions; including no emergency procedures, excessive storage in the escape routes and no appropriate fire safety training or drills for staff. An enforcement notice was served and Mr Chadha was instructed to act immediately upon its findings.
A follow up inspection by the London Fire Brigade took place in December 2007 which discovered that the enforcement notice had not been complied with.
Brian Coleman, chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority said: “This is an unusual case, in that Maureen O’Brien Limited was in the process of going into administration, meaning it was not in the public interest to prosecute the company. However, where the evidence exists, we will prosecute individuals who are responsible for fire safety and do not take these responsibilities seriously.
“I urge landlords, business owners and employers to remember that fire safety is a key part of running any business. You must make yourself aware of the regulations and undertake a fire safety risk assessment, which is now mandatory.”
Total Fire Services Managing Director, Darren Baird, commented on the prosecution of New Look for fire safety breaches, “Only a small proportion of businesses manage to survive a major fire, plus there is the tragic loss of life to both staff and customers that may occur due to inadequate fire safety regulations.”
Darren added, “Failure to comply with the enforcement order, as was the case with the Maureen O’Brien Ltd, will undoubtedly lead to prosecution. Such action may be avoided as Total Fire Services can provide mediation services on behalf of clients with relevant enforcement authorities, helping avoid possible prosecution.”