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The company Total Waste Ltd has been prosecuted by Dorset Fire Authority and fined £40,000 plus costs of £22,688.82 after pleading guilty to 16 offences at Bournemouth Crown Court following their admission of their failure to comply with fire safety law.
On 24 March 2008 (Easter Bank Holiday), a fire safety officer attended the premises at Balena Close, Creekmoor, Poole, occupied by Total Waste Ltd, having received a complaint from a Planning Enforcement Officer from the Borough of Poole who was carrying out a separate unannounced visit to the premises.
The premises was being used by the company as a paper recycling facility and the officer found a very high risk, together with a range of very serious fire safety deficiencies, that included very poor means of escape, compounded by a number of blocked fire exits, a disabled fire alarm and other deficiencies all essential for the safety of the employees on site.
The officer attending the premises considered the risk to the employees was so serious that he immediately served a Prohibition Notice on the premises preventing any further use until the major deficiencies had been dealt with.
A full investigation was subsequently conducted by Dorset Fire and Rescue Service which has resulted in formal prosecution proceedings being taken against Total Waste Ltd, who subsequently pleaded guilty to 16 offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The Head of Fire Safety for Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, Group Manager Craig Baker, said:
"Officers found extremely serious fire safety breaches that, in our opinion offered an immediate threat to the employees of Total Waste Ltd, therefore I believe in this case the Fire Authority had no option but to take action and prosecute the company.
"One of Dorset Fire and Rescue Services aims is to reduce the risk and impact across the whole community. Fire can have a devastating effect on the people affected and serious consequences for the business.
"We take our enforcement role very seriously and today we have taken action to prosecute this company but this is the result of very serious breaches of the fire safety legislation, we want to work with businesses to reduce risk.
"We aim to educate and encourage people responsible for them, to prevent fires ensuring a safe building before we take enforcement action."