Royal Berkshire Fire Authority hope that the £40,000 fine levied against national retailer Asda yesterday [6 June] show that compliance with fire safety legislation is "not just an option".

The company received the fine for serious fire safety breaches at its store in Cippenham, Slough following an inspection of the store by fire safety officers on 24 June 2010.

At a previous hearing before Reading Magistrates Court in February, Magistrates declined jurisdiction for sentencing and referred the case to the Crown Court where Asda Stores Limited pleaded guilty to two charges brought under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.

The court heard that there were several breaches of safety regulations including locked fire doors, obstruction of escape routes and fire doors left wedged open.

In summing up, Judge Grainger, whilst acknowledging Asda Stores Limited's guilty plea and the mitigation offered by the defence (that company-wide fire safety policies had been ignored), stated that the breaches to fire safety regulations were very serious and presented a serious and life-threatening risk, not only to the staff who worked there but also to members of the public who visited the premises.

David Walden, RBFA's Fire Safety Legal Support Manager, said: "This was a clear case of a major retailing company failing to comply with fire safety regulations and, by doing so, placing people at serious risk.  It also provides further evidence that some businesses continue to treat compliance with fire safety legislation as an option - it is not. 

"Staff and customers are entitled to feel safe when working at or visiting a supermarket or any other business.  We will continue with our efforts to ensure that any business owner or manager who refuses to take these obligations seriously will be brought before the Courts."

The company has 28 days to pay the fine.

Posted 07/06/2012 by