Mr Usman Ali, the owner of Ray’s Discount Store in Hendon, Tyne and Wear, has been fined £1000 each for two counts of failing to reply to letters sent by the fire and rescue service. In addition to the fines, Mr Ali has been issued legal costs of £1380 and a victim surcharge of £120. This brought his total bill to £3500.
Mr Ali failed to appear in court so the case was heard in his absence. Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service told the court that attempts had been made to contact Mr Ali by telephone and in writing, but he failed to reply to requests for an appointment. Article 27 of the Fire Safety 2005 states that businesses must allow fire officers access to inspect the premises and provide information regarding fire precautions.
The area manager for the fire service, Alan Robson, said, “We only prosecute as a last resort and give business owners every opportunity to comply before enforcement action is taken. It is always our preferred option to work closely with the business community to provide fire safety education and information. But where necessary we will not hesitate to exercise our legal powers to ensure the safety of the public and our firefighters. We welcome the court’s decision in this case and hope that it serves as a reminder to other businesses that they must comply with the law.”