Firm breached fire safety rules

AN Ipswich firm has been fined £20,000 after being taken through the courts over fire safety breaches.

AN Ipswich firm has been fined £20,000 after being taken through the courts over fire safety breaches.

Munro Importers Ltd, electrical suppliers based in Knightsdale Road, Ipswich, appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to nine fire safety offences.

The charges, brought by Suffolk County Council, included:

failing to produce a suitable risk assessment

fire doors being wedged open

blocked and obstructed exit routes

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restricted aisles and gangways

inadequate fire safety training

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said an investigation of the fire safety provision at the company started in November 2007 with a visit by an officer of Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Fire Safety Department to check that a self-risk assessment had been adequately carried out.

The officer found a number of breaches of fire safety legislation that placed members of staff and people visiting the premises at significant risk if a fire occurred.

In summing up, magistrates emphasised the seriousness of the offences and that the company had placed 22 employees at significant risk.

John Clements chairman of the magistrates said: “Had a fire occurred there could have been very serious consequences.”

Neil Saunders, mitigating, stressed the company had not cut corners to save money and that self-assessments could leave people struggling in the dark. He added that since the inspection, considerable improvements had been made with staff now receiving regular training.

A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said: “It is hoped that the successful conclusion to this case will give and a very strong message to all.

“Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service will enforce serious and continued breaches of fire regulations to ensure the safety of persons in Suffolk and visitors to our county.”

Besides fines totalling £20,000, magistrates ordered the company to pay costs of £7,311.95.

Is £20,000 a fair fine for fire safety breaches? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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