London Fire Brigade

‘Tinderbox’ takeaway owner prosecuted for putting customers lives at risk

26 April 2017

A Feltham business owner who’s premises were a ‘potential tinder box’ has been hit with a £7,000 fine and six month suspended prison sentence for breaking fire safety laws and putting the lives of his customers and tenants at risk.

Umar Khyyam who ran the Red Chilli Pizza takeaway and shisha bar the ‘Mist Café, on Staines Road, as well as letting a flat on the first floor, was sentenced at Hammersmith Magistrates Court on Monday after admitting  three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. He was also ordered to pay £6,880 prosecution costs.

Inspectors raised serious fire safety concerns

Our fire safety officers were called to the property in February 2015 by Hounslow Council. After carrying out an inspection they raised a number of serious concerns, including:

  • A large hole in ceiling above an electrical distributor board. Looking through it, officers could see the floorboards of the flat above. There would be nothing to stop any fire in the distributor board from spreading rapidly to the flat.
  • The commercial kitchen ceiling was made of plywood, which would accelerate a fire and cause it to spread upstairs;
  • There was no fire door between the business premises and the flat’s stairs
  • The stairs to the flat were not  adequately protected and there were only timber slats separating the businesses below and the flat above

Potential 'tinderbox'

Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Fire safety Paul Jennings  said: “This building was a potential tinderbox. The fire safety failings our officers found put the lives of those inside this building  at serious risk as they would have caused any fire to rapidly spread to the upstairs flat and would have made  the stairs unusable, cutting off the only escape route.

" Business have a clear responsibility under fire safety law to ensure that their customers, staff and any people living by their premises are safe from the risk of fire. If we find people are ignoring those responsibilities, we won't hesitate to prosecute. “

Inspectors said the chance of a fire breaking out in the premises would have been high as a commercial kitchen was operating in the building, while the back rooms were set up as a shisha bar. There were also fabric wall hangings that had not been fire-proofed and extension leads plugged into one another in a ‘daisy chain’ effect.

We issued a Prohibition Notice on 4 February 2015 preventing the premises being used as a business until the required work had been completed. The notice was lifted in April 2015.

Defendant admitted three fire safety charges

Mr Khyyam pleaded guilty to the following charges under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005:

  • Failing to ensuring that the means of escape - the stairs- could be safely and effectively used by ensuring there was adequate fire safety separation between the commercial premises and the residential area of the building
  • Failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
  • Failing to ensure that premises are equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment, fire detectors and smoke alarms.