Fire safety breaches in a West Mids building result in suspended jail term and £145,000 fines

West Midlands Fire Service were met with 'reckless attitudes towards fire safety'

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Published on 28 April 2023

West Midlands Fire Service were met with 'reckless attitudes towards fire safety'

A fire in a building housing a restaurant, offices and residential flats in the West Midlands has led to the owner being handed a 16-month suspended prison sentence at Birmingham Crown Court.   

The court also ordered the man and two companies to pay fines totalling £145,000 plus legal costs of £55,765.

On 30 September 2016, firefighters responded to a small fire on the first floor of the three-storey premises on Birmingham Road, Wylde Green. They were so concerned about smoke travel in the means of escape and the lack of fire safety arrangements that they called in fire safety officers to assess. 

When fire safety officers from West Midlands Fire Service inspected the premises, they found several fire safety issues: 

  • no fire risk assessment in place
  • insufficient fire resistance between the ground and first floors 
  • no fire alarm system 
  • dangerously coiled extension leads being used in the restaurant. 

An interim fire alarm was fitted to reduce the immediate risk to persons. 

West Midlands Fire Service served enforcement notices to KWB Property Management Ltd, Arista Restaurants Ltd and landlord Mr Christos Orthodoxou to ensure that other fire safety issues were addressed in a timely manner.

West Midlands Fire Service crest on the door of one of our fire engines

Further visits to the premises in 2018 and 2019 revealed that some of the issues had still not been addressed. It became apparent that records could not be produced to prove claims that work had been carried out to address compartmentation failings, and work that had been completed was not carried to an acceptable standard.

Today (28 April 2023), Arista Restaurants Ltd (trading as Piri Fino), KWB Property Management Ltd and Mr Christos Orthodoxu were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court after having earlier pleaded guilty to offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Mr Orthodoxu’s prison sentence was suspended for 21 months.  He was further ordered to pay a fine of £5,000 and costs of £15,765.   

KWB Property Management Limited were ordered to pay fines of £80,000, plus £20,000 costs. 

Arista Restaurants Limited were ordered to pay £60,000, and £20,000 costs.

Group Manager Darren Marshall, of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We take no pleasure from bringing such cases to court. We would much rather work with those responsible for fire safety, to resolve issues in a timely manner.

“During this lengthy investigation, we encountered reckless attitudes towards fire safety. The building’s owner and agent refused to accept responsibility, as did the director of the restaurant and a director of the managing agency.

“Our role is to keep safe those living or working in, or visiting, such premises. Where necessary, we will ensure that people who fail others in their fire safety responsibilities face the courts.”