Restaurant pleads guilty to breaches of fire safety regulations


A restaurant owner and a company which she was the director of have been ordered to pay nearly £17,000 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to serious breaches of fire safety legislation following a prosecution brought by the London Fire Brigade. Linda Sade and Solly's Restaurant Limited were prosecuted following a fire at the premises on 24 September 2007.

When fire crews arrived at Solly's Restaurant on Golders Green Road, there were staff still inside the building. Some staff members were tackling the flames with fire extinguishers and had to be escorted out of the property by firefighters.

Crew Manager Paul Rozan who was at the scene said; "I found that the restaurant manager and staff were still in the building when we arrived and they were trying to fight the fire. I immediately asked them to leave but they ignored me and continued either fighting the fire or running around in confusion. I took control of the situation and ordered them out of the building as they were hampering firefighting."

Other firefighters saw staff stopping and collecting personal items before evacuating. The fire badly damaged the roof of the restaurant and six fire engines and around 30 firefighters were needed to bring the fire under control.

Assistant Commissioner for fire safety regulation Steve Turek said: "Not having a clear plan when a fire breaks out can put people's lives at risk. All premises owners and operators must make themselves aware of the regulations, to undertake a fire safety risk assessment, which is now mandatory, act upon its findings and put in place an emergency plan."

 The breaches also included an emergency exit that was locked, escape routes being obstructed and an absence of smoke and fire detection.

The London Fire Brigade recorded 166 fires in restaurants (including cafes and takeaway food shops) in the Capital during 2007-8 despite the introduction of the new Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) in late 2006, which places new duties on building owners and operators.

The fire at Solly's Restaurant started in the extract ventilation system. It is estimated that over 80 per cent of kitchen extract ducts in the UK are never cleaned and are in a hazardous state.

Steve Turek continued: "A kitchen extract ventilation system draws grease laden air directly from the areas above cookers, grills and fryers via the cooker hood and discharges it into the atmosphere. These grease deposits are easily ignited by even a small flash fire on or in the fryer, hob or grill and flames and heat can then quickly spread through the building, causing substantial damage and endangering lives. A risk assessment should, amongst other things, cover any ventilation system in the premises, the need for it to be maintained and cleaned on a regular basis and also look at whether it may contribute to the spread of fire."

Solly's Restaurant was severely damaged as a result of the fire which meant that the Solly's Restaurant Limited operated at a significant loss during 2008. District Judge Dabar commented that the fines would have been considerably higher if the company had been in the same financial position as it was before the fire.

Sentencing took place at Hendon Magistrates Court on 19 May 2009.

Notes to Editors

Solly's Restaurant Limited were fined £3,300 and Linda Sade was fined £750. They both pleaded guilty to 9 breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO).

The Brigade was awarded £10,686.03 to be paid by the company and £2000 to be paid by Linda Sade. A victim surcharge of £30 was imposed.

Total costs and fines were £16766.03.