London Fire Brigade

Tesco handed fine for serious fire safety breaches

20 April 2010

The retailer Tesco has been fined £95,000 and ordered to pay £24,321 in costs after pleading guilty to serious breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (the “RRO”).

London Fire Brigade prosecuted Tesco following a fire and subsequent inspection of a supermarket at Colney Hatch in Barnet. Firefighters were called to a fire at the premises on 14 October 2007. When they arrived they found the premises was locked but managed to get the attention of a shop floor worker who was restocking the store after closing hours. Firefighters discovered that there had been a fire in the staff kitchen but it had been put out by staff using extinguishers and a fire blanket. There was still a significant amount of smoke in the kitchen, the corridor and staff locker rooms. Fire crews had to ask staff several times to evacuate the premises.

This incident led to concerns about fire safety within the store and it was inspected by the Brigade the day after the fire (15 October 2007). The inspector found a number of breaches of fire legislation. The RRO requires that the responsible person (in a workplace, the employer) to carry out a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and act on its findings.

Other serious deficiencies included a failure to ensure escape routes were kept clear and an inadequate fire separation in the building due to doors being wedged open.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “Fire safety is a key part of good business management and the general public should feel safe from fire when they are out shopping. London Fire Brigade will continue to take action when businesses, large or small, do not take their fire safety responsibilities seriously. Failure to comply with the law can, as this case has shown, result in a prosecution.”

Tesco pleaded guilty to five breaches of the RRO and sentencing took place at Wood Green Crown Court on 20 April 2010.

Notes to editors

For more information on the RRO please go to http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/RegulatoryReformOrder2005.asp