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No Fire Risk Assessment, blocked fire exits and no alarm: Catalogue of failings at engineering firm ‘could have cost lives’

Staff at Charlton Engineering Services had to negotiate their way past the burning room due to a fire escape being obstructed. The site was also found to have no firm alarm.

Staff could have died because a fire escape at the offices of an engineering firm was blocked when a blaze broke out.

Now, the firm has been fined £60,646 after company directors Colin and Lee Charlton pleaded guilty to eight charges on behalf of the company at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.

They were fined £25,000 for not having a fire risk assessment in place, £25,000 for having no fire alarm, £1,000 per offence for six other offences and £4,645 costs.

District Judge Roger Elsey told the court: “There was a significant fire but this was brought swiftly under control and although nobody was injured there was a risk of death or serious injury.

“Although the offences were of negligence rather than intention, the fine has to be significant.

“The most severe offence was not having a Fire Risk Assessment.”

Judge Elsey said if an assessment had been completed then the other offences may not have happened. The charges related to a lack of fire detection and alarm equipment, a lack of fire safety training for staff, unavailability of several fire exits blocked or obstructed and inadequately maintained fire doors.

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