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Sussex firms failing fire safety tests
Two out of every three businesses inspected by fire officials are putting lives at risk.
Of the 119 commercial and public buildings tested in East Sussex in October, November and December, just 35 were up to scratch – with 84 requiring either formal or informal action.
But Mark Hobbs, a legislation and enforcement officer at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said business owners often viewed firefighters as an enemy who were just trying to force up their bills.
He said: “It is fair to say that compliance is not quite what it should be.
“We are sometimes viewed as the bad guys who go around telling people to spend money on expensive equipment.
“But all we are trying to do is prevent a tragedy like the one we’ve seen recently in Brazil.”
Of the 84 premises that failed inspections, two were immediately closed until improvements were made.
A further six were given weeks to tackle the problems or told they would be taken to court.
Among those falling foul were Venture Industrial Park in St Leonards, After 5 takeaway in Hove and Avalon Nursing Home in Nevill Avenue, Eastbourne.
An inspection at the care home found not all doors were fire resistant, fire exits had obstacles in their way, electrical boards were unprotected and there were no real safety drills in place.
On November 8, Papas Snack Bar and Restaurant in Oxford Street, Brighton, was forced to restrict access to the flat above the business after inspectors found that not only was there no fire alarm or detection system for the upstairs accommodation but also no escape route for residents to use safely.
In August, Samantha Coull was ordered to pay more than £26,000 after she put the lives of her employees at risk in a huge fire at Beach Break Cafe in Kings Road Arches in Brighton.
Magistrates were told there was only one domestic fire alarm in the shop and that was not working.
The fire started due to a build up of grease in a poorly maintained extraction duct which was set alight by a faulty chip fryer.
Mark McCullough, the owner of Brighton’s Hotel 19 in Broad Street, was also prosecuted after inspectors found not only did his fire doors not meet safety standards but there was no fire door connecting the ground and lower ground floors.
Additionally inspectors found that flammable bed linen, DVDs and CDs were stored on two floors under the seven-bedroom hotel’s only staircase.
For more details on the regulations and help for business owners visit www.esfrs.org.
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