A Nottinghamshire businessman has been imprisoned for four months and fined £15,000 for breaching fire safety standards at his restaurant in the county.
Mr Gia Kamali pleaded guilty to six charges relating to breaches of a Prohibition Notice, inadequate fire alarms, inadequate escape routes and inadequate maintenance relating to sleeping accommodation above the restaurant.
By his pleas, Mr Kamali accepted that these failings had placed staff, who used the upper floors of the premises, at risk of death or serious injury in the case of a fire.
Fire Protection Officers from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service first visited the premises following concerns having been raised on 14 October 2013. On inspection, the Service identified a number of deficiencies, including the only escape staircase from the upper floor unprotected from any fire in the kitchen, a lack of adequate fire doors, a lack of fire detectors and alarms and a lack of emergency lighting.
Given the level of risk to persons using the upper floor, a Prohibition Notice was served preventing use of the first floor except as a store room. Inspections in April 2014, November 2014 and May 2015 revealed breaches of that Prohibition Notice, including use of the first floor for sleeping.
The judge remarked during the sentencing that the premises had been a “death trap”. He went on to say that Mr Kamali had made no attempts to improve fire safety measures at the premises and had only “paid lip service” to the Prohibition Notice and the warnings given by the fire and rescue service. He described Mr Kamali as “either arrogant or unthinking”.
In stating that the sentence of imprisonment must be immediate, not suspended, the Judge said that “a message has to get home” that Prohibition Notices are serious measures that should not be taken lightly and that breaches of them may well result in custodial sentences.
Station Manager Tom Clark, Fire Protection Officer for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, echoed the thoughts of the Judge.“We welcome and support the comments made by his Honour Judge Spencer when passing sentence,” he added.
“Prohibition Notices are extremely serious matters and, in the rare circumstances they are issued, must be taken seriously. They are only issued where there is an immediate risk to life or serious injury to those using the premises.
“Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service does and will always seek to work with and support business owners. However, staff, members of the public and visitors using premises within Nottingham and Nottinghamshire should feel reassured that they can do so safely.
“We hope that sentences such as these confirm to the public that we do take fire safety matters very seriously, and that we are committed to creating safer communities for us all to enjoy.”