London Fire Brigade

Landlord of 'fire trap' Brick Lane pub hit with £30,000 fine

29 September 2015

The landlord of a Brick Lane public house, labelled a 'fire trap', has received a four month suspended prison sentence and been hit with a £30,000 fine for breaking fire safety laws.

At a sentencing hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday (25 September) Koyser Khan of Buckinghamshire admitted ten offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

 In addition to the four month sentence, which was suspended for two years, Mr Khan was ordered to pay an additional £32,811 in costs following the successful prosecution by the Brigade.

Inspection raised serious concerns

Our fire safety inspecting officers first visited The Archers public house in Shoreditch, E1 in April 2010 where they found, as well as the public house on the ground floor, sleeping accommodation on the building's second and third floors.

Following the visit, inspectors raised a number of serious fire safety concerns including:

  • Inadequate smoke detection systems 
  • Insufficient fire extinguishers
  • Missing fire doors and defective fire doors
  • Inadequate means of escape in the event of a fire
  • No evidence of a fire risk assessment, staff training or maintenance of fire alarms and emergency lighting

We served a prohibition notice the same day preventing the second and third floors of the five storey building being used for anything other than storage.

An enforcement notice was then issued on 11 May requiring improvement work to be completed by 16 August 2010.

Follow up inspections found no improvement

Follow up inspections by our inspection team found that, although a fire risk assessment was now in place, no work had been undertaken to comply with the enforcement notice and that the second floor was still being used as living and sleeping accommodation.

The prohibition notice was eventually lifted once the fire safety  improvement works had been carried out but a final visit to the property in January 2012 revealed the building’s fire alarm system wasn’t working because its use had been removed and that two alarm call points had had their ‘break glass’ panels replaced with cardboard.

'A Potential fire trap'

Speaking after the court case, our Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Neil Orbell, said: "This public house was a potential fire trap and I have no doubt that if a blaze had broken out inside, its occupants would have been at serious risk of losing their lives.

"Those responsible for buildings have a clear legal responsibility to ensure the people living and working there are safe from fire.

"Sadly it's clear to me that in this case, not only were those responsibilities being flouted before we  visited the premises, the pub's licensee continued to ignore them even after we had carried out our safety inspection.

"This is completely unacceptable and landlords, managers and building owners should be warned that we will always prosecute if we find they are putting people's lives at risk."

Mr Khan pleaded guilty to the following offences at an earlier hearing under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005:

  • (a) Article 9(1) – make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
  • (b) Article 8 – failure to take general fire precautions
  • (c) Article 13 – failure to provide adequate fire-fighting and fire detection equipment
  • (d) Article 14 – inadequate measures to safeguard the route to the emergency exits (x2)
  • (e) Article 15 – Inadequate emergency procedures to be followed in case of fire
  • (f) Article 17(1) – premises and facilities, equipment and devices subject to a suitable system of maintenance and maintained in working order/repair
  • (g) Article 21 – Failure to provide information and training to employees
  • (h) Article 30 – Failure to comply with an enforcement notice
  • (i) Article 31 – Failure to comply with a prohibition notice

Apply for free smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

From October, all private landlords must fit smoke alarms on each floor of their rental properties and install carbon monoxide alarms in rooms containing solid fuel burners - such as cookers and heaters - or face being slapped with a £5,000 fine.