Yesterday (Wednesday 27 October), at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, Mr Gordon Lee, the owner of 54 Oxford Street, Penkull, Stoke-on-Trent, was sentenced in respect of a single offence of breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Lee was sentenced to 12-months' community service. He was also ordered to pay full costs within 28 days.
He had entered a guilty plea to the breach of failing to take general fire precautions at an earlier hearing.
The offence alleged came to light following a serious fire at mixed commercial/residential premises situated at 54 Oxford Street, Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent, on 17 May 2020. Several occupants had to be rescued from the burning building by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue firefighters. A number of people suffered from the effects of smoke inhalation and were taken to hospital. One man was admitted with serious burns and his treatment is ongoing.
The premises had been converted from sole commercial use (as a recording studio) into mixed commercial and residential usage. That change took place without planning/building regulatory approval
Howard Watts, Director of Community Safety at Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "The fire occurred in the building where people were sleeping. The owner failed to take general fire precautions, placing people at serious risk as smoke and gases from the fire could have killed them."
"Premises owners should recognise that they have a responsibility to ensure that properties have a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment in place, which is reviewed regularly, and facilities that are provided for safety from fire are maintained to a suitable standard."
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service regularly inspects business premises. The vast majority of these properties are well managed, maintained and comply with current fire safety regulations.
He went on to say: "Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service will consider formal action against anyone found to be in breach of Fire Safety Regulations.
"The service will advise and give support to both local and national businesses and are always willing to help make sure they comply with Fire Safety Legislation. However, the public should continue to be reassured that legal action will be used when necessary, where any serious breaches of Fire Safety Regulations are identified."