Restaurant owner fined for ten breaches of Fire Safety Order 09 August 2010

A restaurant owner has been fined £15,000 for ten breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 following a serious fire.

When crews arrived at the China Wok restaurant in Stokesley, north Yorkshire on 24 January, they found a fire on the ground floor of the premises. Two people who were trapped on the upper floors were rescued by fire-fighters and taken to hospital.

Following the fire, investigations found that the owner, Mr Shun Lin Lam, had failed to address a number of fire safety deficiencies and allowed people to sleep in the premises, despite not having an adequate means of escape, a fire alarm, a fire detection system, any emergency lighting or fire extinguishers.

Mr Lan pleaded guilty to the breaches at Northallerton Magistrates Court on Monday 2 August.

Ms Karen Galloway, prosecuting, said the decision to prosecute was not taken lightly. “The responsible person is always in a position of authority; their lack of actions should have been foreseeable to prevent, in the event of fire, persons being put at risk of death or injury. The contraventions in this case were serious and would have continued had the fire authority not acted immediately by serving a prohibition notice on the responsible person.”

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said that in imposing the fine, the magistrates stated there was a balance to make. On the one hand, two lives could have been lost inside a property which was a fire hazard and where little money had been spent for a very long time. On the other hand, the defendant had not wilfully refused to do the upgrade works required and had fully co-operated with the courts and fire authority, but had been ignorant of fire safety regulations.