London Pub Owner, Manager Given Jail Sentences for Fire Safety Violations

"This premises was a potential death trap, and the fact that the judge sentenced both Mr. Farag and Mr. Wassef to six months in prison should serve as a stark warning to other landlords who choose to ignore their fire safety responsibilities," said Neil Orbell, the London Fire Brigade's assistant commissioner for fire safety. "The courts plainly take fire safety as seriously as we do, and if we find landlords are putting their tenants' lives at risk, we won't hesitate to prosecute."

The former manager and leaseholder of a London pub were given 24-week jail sentences this month after pleading guilty to eight offenses under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, following an inspection by London Fire Brigade officers. Manager Samir Wassef and leaseholder Sami Farag were charged after the inspection took place in November 2011, according to a brigade news release.

It says inspectors found inadequate fire detection, compromised escape routes, defective fire doors, inadequate fire separation between the staircase and kitchen, no staff training records, disabled smoke alarms, and no emergency fire plan in place. No fire risk assessment for the premises had been carried out, they discovered.

An enforcement notice was issued requiring repairs to be completed by April 2012, but subsequent visits showed some of the notice's requirements still had not been met: "Fire doors remained hooked open, door closers remained unfitted and there was no fire door separating the kitchen and bar. In addition, there was still no emergency plan or fire safety training for staff. A fire risk assessment was provided but this was found to be wholly inadequate," the release says.

"This premises was a potential death trap, and the fact that the judge sentenced both Mr. Farag and Mr. Wassef to six months in prison should serve as a stark warning to other landlords who choose to ignore their fire safety responsibilities," said Neil Orbell, the brigade's assistant commissioner for fire safety. "The courts plainly take fire safety as seriously as we do, and if we find landlords are putting their tenants' lives at risk, we won't hesitate to prosecute."

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