Takeaway owner convicted after ‘total disregard’ of fire safety

The former owner of a takeaway in Rochdale has pleaded guilty to putting the lives of a four-year-old girl and his employees at risk after admitting 11 offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order.
Usman Adnan Farzand of Oldham Road, Ashton, pleaded guilty to the charges at Bury and Rochdale magistrates court on 1 August, after an inspection by fire protection officers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service in 2011. He is due to be sentenced at Minshull Street crown court in Manchester on 13 September.
Officers visited the Mr Cod takeaway, on Yorkshire Street in Rochdale, in February 2011. They found there was no fire alarm in the building and that the doors separating the takeaway from the living accommodation were not fire doors.
Officers also found a four-year-old child of an employee asleep in the cellar, which had no ventilation or natural light.
The basement housed the mains gas and electric intakes and officers found overloaded extension leads and sockets powering a fridge, kettle and microwaves. Piles of combustible materials were stacked in front of the gas meter and this area was directly opposite the bottom of the stairs.
There was only one staircase to and from the cellar and this led up to an area linked to the takeaway with no fire separation.
On the ground floor, the hallway leading from the basement to the front of the building was blocked by a large freezer and combustible items.
The building had no emergency lighting or signage.
Officers were so concerned that they served a prohibition notice on the cellar being used.
Prosecuting for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, Cassie Williams told the court that the cumulative effect of the charges meant that if a fire occurred, it is highly unlikely anyone in the basement could have escaped and they would probably have died.
In asking the magistrates to consider whether their sentencing powers were appropriate, Miss Williams told the court that the risk to a vulnerable person – namely a four-year-old – was a serious aggravating feature.

The magistrates committed Mr Farzand to the crown court to be sentenced.
Peter O’Reilly, director of prevention and protection at GMFRS said:
“Farzand showed a total disregard, not only for his employees when they were working but also those he allowed to live in the basement – which was not fit for habitation.
“This disregard is even more appalling as it affected a young child. Anyone looking at the premises would see the risks of fire and this businessman ignored them, putting innocent lives at risk.”

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