Disabled smoke detectors lead to prosecution
March 22, 2011barriehol
It never ceases to amaze me the lengths that some businesses will go to circumvent fire safety legislation often with wanton disregard for the safety of their customers and staff.
A recent prosecution under the Fire Safety legislation saw the owner of a Thai restaurant pleading guilty to 12 charges relating to fire safety breaches posing a life-threatening risk to staff and customers. So extensive are the legal responsibilities for the business owner as the “responsible person” as defined under the Regulatory Reform (fire safety) Order (RRO) that it is all too easy for one misdemeanor to generate several other non compliances each of which is a prosecution in its own right.
In this case Fire Safety inspectors, who by the way have the right to call on any premises unannounced, found amongst several safety breaches that the owner had installed smoke detectors and then proceeded to tape cling film over the unit sensors to prevent them from sounding the alarm in the event of a fire. That has to be just about as irresponsible as it can get particularly when the premises was not only a restaurant but also doubled as a boarding house for members of staff.
It also showed a lack of understanding on the correct placement of smoke detectors. As a rule you would not install them in a kitchen area where even with air extraction the generation of smoke from cooking can result in persistent false alarms and is probably what prompted the owner to disable them. Better to install them in adjacent rooms so as to detect excessive smoke generation.
I would also recommend the use of Optical Smoke Detectors in these areas as they are less prone to false alarms than the cheaper Ionization Smoke Detectors.
In the restaurant kitchen you can install a 2 litre or 6 litre Wet Chemical fire extinguisher and one or two of the larger sized fire blankets to provide effective means to combat cooking fat fires and pan fires on commercial ranges.
In this case the owner of the restaurant paid the ultimate price for his recklessness with the forced sale of the business in order to pay the fine and costs imposed as a result of the successful prosecution.