MANSFIELD’S B&M Bargains store has been hit with fines of more than £32,000 after being found guilty of breaching fire safety regulations.
Fire protection officers from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service paid a visit to the newly-opened Stockwell Gate shop in June last year and found that the store’s fire precautions were inadequate.
Appearing at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court, representatives from the national retail store admitted breaching six fire safety offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The court was told that B&M had failed to create a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and were found to have obstructed fire exits leading out of the building.
Fire officers also found a fire exit route led to a locked enclosed area and bosses also failed to ensure that employees received adequate safety training.
A second inspection in October last year found a fire exit route still led to a locked enclosed area and other fire doors were locked and were unusable in an emergency.
In mitigation, barrister Austin Welch said that B&M took health and safety and fire regulations very seriously.
“This is not a case where a company has operated for a great deal of time, the staff had been working there for three weeks and it had been open for a week, this is an extremely short period of time,” he said.
He also said that contractors had left debris in front of the fire exits and the practicalities of opening a new shop, in terms of staff training and rewiring the building, had to be taken into account.
But fire officers said that the breaches presented a serious risk to the lives of B&M Bargains’ customers and staff.
The company was fined £27,500 for the six offences, fined £5,469.17 and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge.
Following the case, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service has reminded all owners and occupiers of buildings of their legal responsibility to protect their customers and staff against the risk of fire and warning them that, where necessary, action will be taken against anyone found to be in breach of fire safety regulations.
Ian Taylor, fire protection group manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We are here to provide advice and support to local businesses and are always willing to help to make sure they comply with the fire safety legislation.
“However, the public should continue to be reassured that we take any breaches of fire safety very seriously and will use legal sanctions where necessary.
“In this case, my officers had previously spent some time ensuring that B&M Retail Ltd was aware of its responsibilities and duties to ensure people’s safety, and it is disappointing that they chose to continue to place people at risk from fire.”
Fire safety advice and guidance for all types of premises is available at www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw/ and www.notts-fire.gov.uk.