The owners of a Manchester-based shisha bar have gone on trial accused of risking people’s lives.
Manchester Crown Court heard how the 100-person capacity marquee known as The Oasis Lounge in Hulme, was already deemed a high risk environment for fire.
Evidence that emerged during the trial of four people said to be in control of the premises included how the fire alarm was switched off and boxes and combustible bin liners were stored next to a defective fire exit.
After the fire service visited the bar in 2012 the managers were served with a notice ordering the premises to be shut down until “breaches which caused risk of serious injury and death” were remedied.
Despite the order however, the bar continued to serve customers for more than four weeks before Manchester Council dismantled the marquee which was housed inside a single-storey warehouse.
Further evidence included the fact that the fire exit door had a broken push bar preventing it from being opened properly, the bar had inadequate emergency lighting and signs, and electrical extension cables were seen “littering the floor”.
It is depressingly clear how requirements for basic fire safety precautions were quite simply ignored in this case, putting customers at significant risk of death.
The combination of naked flames, burning charcoal and soft furnishings make many shisha bars a high risk environment for fire.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is designed to prevent fires in non-domestic premises and protect employees and the public alike.
It is the responsibility of business owners to carry out fire risk assessments to ensure fire safety procedures, fire prevention measures, and fire precautions are all in place and working properly.
Good management of fire safety is essential to ensure fires are unlikely to occur and in the event that they do occur they are controlled or contained quickly, effectively and safely.
In this case, customers were at risk of death by fire, toxic fumes and Crush Injuries due to inadequate lighting, broken and obstructed fire exits, and a fire alarm that wasn’t even switched on.
Unlike most other safety concerns, fire has the potential to kill large numbers of people very quickly and as such it is paramount business owners are aware of the specific fire safety requirements they are expected by law to adhere to.
Tristan Hallam is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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