London Fire Brigade

Airport arrest for Finchley restauranteur brought to book for fire safety offences

20 September 2017

A Finchley restaurant owner who ‘put lives at risk’ by persistently failing to address fire safety failings has been handed a six month suspended prison sentence following a successful prosecution by London Fire Brigade. He was arrested at the airport as he set off for a short break.

Saeid Hamedani, who was the leaseholder of the Shahrzad Restaurant on Ballard’s Lane was sentenced at  Harrow Crown Court on Wednesday 13 September after pleading guilty to six offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.  He was also ordered to complete 80 hours community service and to pay £10,000 prosecution costs.

Defective fire alarms and faulty fire doors

Our fire safety officers visited the restaurant following a fire in the kitchen in August 2011. They discovered a number of serious fire safety deficiencies including a defective fire alarm, fire doors that were left wedged open or were poorly fitted and inadequate escape routes.

Follow up visits by the Brigade’s fire safety officers found that none of the fire safety failings identified by the Brigade’s inspectors had been addressed, so an enforcement notice was issued requiring the necessary works to be completed within a month.

In July 2012, our inspectors received information that people were sleeping on the premises and another visit took place. They found the same fire safety deficiencies remained unaddressed and in addition, a ground floor exit was now found to be blocked by an electricity generator.

A 'serious risk to life'

It was at this point that fire safety officers decided the safety failings within the building were so serious that ‘they presented a serious risk to life in the event of a fire’ and issued a notice prohibiting the use of the premises for residential purposes.

Legal proceedings started in 2016 against Mr Hamedani but he initially failed to attend court. A warrant was issued and he remained at large until he was arrested in July this year.

Mr Hamedani, of Hounslow, was convicted and sentenced on the following charges:

• Failure to have a fire risk assessment
• Failure to have a suitable fire alarm
• Failure to ensure emergency exits were clear
• Failure to ensure a protected fire escape and have fire doors
• Failure to maintain fire safety equipment
• Non- compliance with an Enforcement Notice

Premises 'nothing short of a death trap'

London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Dan Daly, said: “Mr Hamedani’s persistent refusal to address the concerns of our fire safety officers meant the restaurant and floors above it were nothing short of a ‘death trap,’ putting the lives of all those working and sleeping there at risk if ever a fire had broken out.

“This is the first case we have prosecuted where the issuing of a warrant has resulted in the defendant being arrested and it should send a strong message that where we find business owners not taking their fire safety responsibilities seriously, we will do all we can to ensure they are brought to book and prosecuted.”

If you are a, business owner, landlord or building owner you can find out more about the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order here.