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Shop owners narrowly avoid jail after major fire

A company director and store manager have narrowly avoided jail after a major fire at their Caerphilly shop revealed numerous fire safety defects, reports Wales Online.

Ms Fazarna Ali, company director of Phaze Limited, pleaded guilty to 23 offences and Mr Waris Ali, store manager, pleaded guilty to six offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, after they were prosecuted by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

The safety failings were uncovered in March 2014 after a total of seven fire appliances and more than 35 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze at the shop.

Concerns were raised by the crews who noticed a fire escape door at the rear of the premises was screwed shut, preventing an escape from the rear of the property.

Two other properties were also identified as being occupied by the company, and investigations into them found further defects, including blocked fire escape doors, a fire alarm being isolated and the failure to maintain other firefighting facilities.

In court, Judge Furness said: “There were a number of breaches of fire regulations and these breaches are serious because they risk life.”

Steve Rossiter, head of business Fire Safety for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: “I am pleased with the outcome of the case as it was only a matter of luck that prevented a fire death at the Cardiff Road incident, and when faced with such failings in fire safety provisions we take the decision to prosecute very seriously.

“It’s the role of SWFRS business fire safety department to bring people to justice and this is exactly what we have done today. “Business engagement is central to building positive working relationships within our business community. “The decision to prosecute in this case was not taken lightly, however there was a serious risk to the occupants and this was attributed directly to the actions of the company.”

Ms Ali received a four-month custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay £4,800 in costs and an £80 victim surcharge. Mr Ali also received a four-month custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £2,400 in costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

Original source Wales Online

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