Furniture warehouse convicted after ‘critical’ fire safety breaches

A furniture company has been ordered to pay more than £12,000 after pleading guilty to numerous breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

Showhouse Furniture Ltd in Newmarket and two of its directors, Edward Babington and Francois Guillambert, pleaded guilty to 12 offences at Bury St Edmunds magistrates court on Thursday 27th October 2011.

An investigation following a fire in October 2010 at the warehouse found a number of ‘safety critical’ fire safety breaches. They included the complete obstruction of the fire exits within the warehouse, no fire risk assessment, poor housekeeping, no reliable means for raising the alarm in the event of a fire, no maintenance of fire safety systems, and a lack of emergency lighting.

According to Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, the inspecting officer was so concerned about the safety of the company’s employees that he considered prohibiting the use of the warehouse. It was only due to the staff undertaking immediate and sufficient remedial work that the premises remained open for trading.

“I hope that this case will highlight the importance of compliance with fire safety regulations,” said Suffolk county councillor and portfolio holder for public protection, Colin Spence. “When employees are placed at serious risk, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service will take appropriate and proportionate action.”