Fashion retailer fined for fire safety offences

Fashion retailer Jack Wills Limited has been fined £27,000 after pleading guilty to six offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

The case – heard at York Magistrates Court on 13 December – followed an inspection by fire safety officers in January 2011, when a notification of deficiencies was issued to the company to improve fire safety standards and management.

Following further visits to the store in York to check that the work had been carried out, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service issued an enforcement notice.

The premises consist of ground, first, second, and third floors and an attic space accessed via the main staircase. The ground, first and second floors were used for shop clothing displays, changing rooms, storage rooms and a sitting room for public use on the second floor.

According to North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, the main issues surrounded the single staircase escape route and inadequate or damaged fire doors. Staff were also not aware of the danger of storing combustible materials in the staircase enclosure and in the understairs electrical switch room. On the first floor the alternative escape route was not kept clear and was not clearly indicated.

Jack Wills Limited was fined a total of £27,000 and also ordered to pay £5,619 costs.

Station manager David Watson of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Fire safety officers always try to work with businesses and business owners to ensure they are compliant, or can achieve compliance with the requirements of the legislation within an acceptable time scale. Unfortunately in this case, Jack Wills Limited chose to disregard the items identified within their own fire risk assessments and further advice offered by fire safety officers.”

A spokesperson for Jack Wills said:

“We regret that the fire safety precautions in our York store were deficient and we have since had a third party audit that has confirmed that all of our stores, including York, now comply with fire safety requirements. The safety of our customers and staff is of the utmost importance to us and we have taken prompt company-wide action to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of health and safety.”

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