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Fire safety breaches exposed vulnerable people

A company from Manchester has been fined £51,000 after a catalogue of fire safety breaches were discovered by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

At the site of TandA Textiles, which includes a four-storey mill, warehouses and a showroom, the investigators discovered breaches that meant if a blaze had broken out at the premises, the chances of those workers getting out alive were slim.

Manchester Crown Court heard that in the event of a fire, workers would have to travel distances of up to 200m in the dark, and then have to open roller shutters to get out. The risk of a blaze spreading rapidly was compounded by the layout of the building, where:

  • boxes of combustible materials were stacked in a ‘haphazard’ fashion to the rafters
  • emergency exits were locked and blocked
  • the fire alarm and smoke extractor were broken.

In addition, a hole between floors exposed wiring and the presence of a gas-powered forklift truck added to the tinderbox potential of the building, which backed directly onto a canal without a towpath.

The fire service handed the business a prohibition notice, preventing the business from operating normally. It remained in place for two years while the issues were sorted out. Sentencing, Judge Jinder Singh Boora said: “Had there been a proper risk assessment that obvious and foreseeable risk would have been readily identified. Vulnerable people were placed at risk, (but) this is a company that has learnt its lessons.”

Source - FIA
April 2017