Former Didcot takeaway owner prosecuted for fire safety breaches

The former owner of a Chinese food takeaway in Didcot has been prosecuted for failing to provide suitable fire safety arrangements for her staff.

Ms Siew Ling Yap, the former owner of the Crispy Duck 1, was ordered to pay £4,600 after she allowed employees to sleep in dangerous conditions, in a loft space accessed from a store room at her premises located at 4 Lostock Place, Didcot OX11 7XT.

Fire Safety Inspectors from Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service were tipped off about the conditions by officers from the Local Authority Environmental Health team. Due to the dangerous practices and inadequate fire safety measures to ensure the safety of the workforce that were identified, the Fire Safety Inspectors issued a Prohibition Notice restricting the use of the premises to ensure the safety of the members of staff.

Ms Yap admitted three charges for three different offences at Banbury Magistrates Court on 28 April 2017. These included: failure to take such general fire precautions as were reasonably required to ensure the premises were safe for employees; failure to ensure that it was possible for persons to evacuate the premises as quickly and as safely as possible; and a failure to provide an adequate fire detection and alarm system, all of which meant those sleeping above the store room were placed at risk of death or serious injury if there were a fire.

The fines amounted to £3,000. Ms Yap was also ordered to pay costs totalling £1,500, plus a victim surcharge of £100. Ms Yap is no longer the owner of the Crispy Duck 1, and the business has been taken over by new management.

The case was taken to court by Oxfordshire County Council on behalf of its Fire and Rescue Service.

David Bray, Fire Protection Manager for Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which is enforced by the Fire Authority, places a requirement upon the responsible person, usually the building occupier, operator or owner, to firstly undertake a fire risk assessment and secondly act upon the outcomes of their significant findings. It is important that businesses not only understand why such an assessment must be initially undertaken, but as part of our constant drive to make Oxfordshire safer, we need businesses to regularly review their fire safety arrangements.

“By correctly managing their premises and not committing fire safety offences, business operators can avoid placing the occupants at risk of possible death or serious injury in the event of fire. This means that when Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service do undertake a routine fire safety audit of the premises, it is unlikely that such offences will be discovered and any need for legal proceedings being instigated against the responsible person is eliminated.”

Free advice for business operators

A suite of specific guidance documents to assist business operators is available free of charge via the Government’s GOV.UK website. Fire safety in the workplace - GOV.UK or via the Chief Fire Officers Association website at www.cfoa.org.uk .

Further advice is available from the Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service who are happy to support all local businesses with fire safety guidance.

Advice about fire risk assessments is part of Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service's 365alive campaign, an initiative designed to make the county a safer place through a range of educational and preventative community work. To find out more, visit 365alive.co.uk