In order to assist the business community to understand their responsibilities, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service organise a series of information seminars
Mr. Aaron Mellor was fined £76,000 for allowing dangerous fire safety conditions to exist in both nightclubs

At York Crown Court the responsible person for the Tokyo nightclubs in York and Lincoln, Mr. Aaron Mellor, was fined a combined total of £76,000 for allowing dangerous fire safety conditions to exist in both nightclubs. Tokyo Industries was also awarded a fine of £30,000.

Fire Officers carried out a number of visits to the Tokyo Nightclub in York between 2013 and 2014 and found that at various times the emergency lighting system wasn’t working correctly, the fire alarm and fire detection system was not working and that the fire risk assessment for the property was not adequate.

There was also sleeping accommodation on the premises (of which Mr. Mellor was aware) although he later denied this was the case. The premises were entirely unsuitable and unsafe for such purposes; mains electricity had been disconnected by the supplier for approximately 2.5 weeks as a result of non-payment which threatened the working of the fire alarm and detection system and emergency lighting – these safety systems require a reliable continuous supply of electricity, rather than an intermittent supply from a generator which had been purchased to allow the nightclub to operate on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The rest of the time the generator was switched off.

Electricity supply and other fire safety matters not resolved

Due to the seriousness of the deficiencies an Enforcement Notice was served on the Director of the company, Mr. Mellor, on the 6th March 2013 requiring him to remedy a number of defects in the premises before 3rd April 2013.

Subsequent visits to the property in April by fire officers found the fire alarm was showing a fault, there was not a continuous electricity supply and other fire safety matters had not been resolved. Consequently Mr. Mellor was in breach of the Enforcement Notice.

A visit on the 19th July 2014 found that the Fire Risk Assessment was still not suitable or sufficient, and that it had not been updated and amended to reflect changes in site management and current operation and use of the site.

Due to the seriousness of these fire safety deficiencies, which had been present for several months, and the failure to comply with all the matters contained within the Enforcement Notice North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority took the decision to prosecute Mr. Aaron Mellor and one of his companies Tokyo Industries (One) Limited.

On 12th February 2015 at York Magistrates’ Court Tokyo Industries (One) Limited pleaded guilty to three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO) and Aaron Matthew Mellor ( the sole director of the company) to one offence. The case was committed to the Crown Court for sentence.

On 24th April 2015 Aaron Matthew Mellor was convicted of 11 offences under the RRO by Lincoln Magistrates’ Court (Deputy District Judge Bennett) after a three day trial. The case was committed to the Crown Court for sentence. The Lincoln matter was transferred to York Crown Court so that the defendant in both cases could be sentenced at the same time.

On September 25th 2015 at York Crown Court His Honour Judge (HHJ) Ashurst heard details of the contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Due to the gravitas of the offences and a belief that Mr. Mellor was not operating his companies correctly the prosecution applied to the court for consideration that Mr. Mellor should be banned from being a company director. The defence argued that this was an unreasonable step, as it would mean closure of the Tokyo Group of nightclubs, costing some 1200-1800 jobs to be lost.

Two Fire Authorities combined for the sentencing

It is believed to be the first time in the country that two Fire Authorities have combined in this way for the sentencing of a company and individual business operator, where offences have occurred in different counties.

In sentencing HHJ Ashurst said that in the field of fire safety prevention is better than cure, and had the fire taken hold in either premises the public would have been put to very significant risk to life and limb. Consequently the overall penalties must reflect this. He further commented that a Fire Risk Assessment should not be superficial but address the practical issues about how to protect the public.

Mr Mellor was fined £10,000 for the York offences and fined £66,000 for the Lincoln offences. Mr Mellor was also ordered to pay £23,448.30 in prosecution costs to North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority and £44,004.04 in costs to Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Authority.

Tokyo Industries (One) Limited was awarded a £30,000 fine for the failings found at the York venue.

Group Manager Prevention and Protection, Paul Mead, for Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue says: “This is the first time that two Fire and Rescue services have acted together to successfully bring a prosecution and it sends a clear message out to owners of this type of venue that when they put company profit before public safety with regards to fire safety precautions then we will act when it is in the public interest to do so.”

Ms. Karen Galloway prosecuting solicitor for the Fire Authority stated that: “This was an extremely serious case for which the Fire and Rescue Authority had to prosecute the person responsible for safety within the building. Those living at the address were placed at risk of death or serious injury owing to the inadequate fire safety measures in place. A fire at the premises could have had resulted in catastrophic consequences. There is no doubt that had the Fire Authority not taken action the serious contraventions in this case would have continued unchecked”.

Station Manager, David Watson of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service says:

“North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service does work closely with other local enforcement agencies in an attempt to improve safety standards. Many of the business premises that we visit are well-managed and are conscientious about fire safety matters. However, some of the buildings which are brought to our attention because of fire incidents or complaints turn out to present serious fire safety concerns which endanger those living at, working or visiting the premises.”

He continues; “An adequate fire risk assessment is the starting point for ensuring that the rest of the fire safety provisions are correct, properly managed and maintained. In buildings where sleeping takes place it is vitally important that the correct measures are provided and maintained. When fire alarm and detection systems are not provided or not maintained in full working order those people who are sleeping in a building may well have their lives put at risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire. Fire safety officers will always try to work with businesses and business owners to ensure they are compliant or can achieve compliance with the requirements of the legislation and do so within an acceptable time scale. Unfortunately in this case the person with control had failed so seriously and also allowed people to sleep in an upper floor room. The conviction shows how seriously the Fire Authority and the Courts view those who put the safety of others at risk in the event of a fire.”

Fire risk assessment

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority urge business owners and those with responsibility for any premises, where the fire safety order applies, to ensure that they have conducted their fire risk assessment or reviewed any existing fire risk assessment when this is required. It is important that they are aware of the legislative obligations they need to comply with including having an up to date fire risk assessment.

In order to assist the business community to understand their responsibilities under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRO), North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service organise a series of information seminars throughout the county.

Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

How Technology Helps London Fire Brigade With Incident Command
How Technology Helps London Fire Brigade With Incident Command

Drones give Incident Commanders an aerial view, increasing their situational awareness of fires and helping them to develop tactics to tackle them. Station Officer Lee Newman details how the technology was implemented by London Fire Brigade and the continued benefits. Identify external risks The Grenfell Tower fire has resulted in revisions to several operational procedures and the introduction of new equipment within the Brigade. A few months after the fire, the Brigade was tasked with setting up a trial to test the feasibility of having a drone capability to identify external risks and assess building stability at incidents, providing essential safety information that could facilitate ongoing internal firefighting operations. Implement the use of drones The Brigade implemented the use of drones and acquired a Matrice 210 V1 and a Phantom 4 Working with partners who had an existing drone capability, as well as drone experts, the Brigade began work to implement the use of drones and acquired a Matrice 210 V1 and a Phantom 4 as a trainer and reserve drone. In the summer of 2018, an Emergency Services bespoke course was run by Essex Police to train the Brigade’s team of drone pilots, who were all PfCO qualified within one week. From start to finish, it took just nine months to get London Fire Brigade’s drone team operational. Working of the drones On its first day of being available for incidents, the team received an order to attend a 15-pump fire at a leisure center, which was under renovation. They were asked to confirm if there were cylinders on the roof of the building and immediately put the drone to use. The team flew and relayed the camera footage onto a large screen that was fitted into a van provided for the trial. The drone footage was able to identify, to the Incident Commander’s satisfaction, that the cylinders were actually rolls of asphalt due to be laid on the roof as part of the renovation. If the drone concept could have proven its use in one job, this was it. The information from the drone allowed the Incident Commander to decide not to make it ‘cylinders confirmed’ and saved a lot of unnecessary extra appliance movements. Applications of drone Since that first callout, the team has been to around 300 incidents of six pumps or more, including persons in the water, fires, and various missing people’s incidents both in London and into other counties, assisting police forces. From start to finish, it took just nine months to get London Fire Brigade’s drone team operational Drone inventory The Brigade’s drone capability inventory includes a Matrice 300 with an H20T dual thermal and optical camera; a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual with multi attachments; a Mavic Air 2 and a Yuneec 520. The Brigade also has a Teradek live streaming device and multiple tablets for receiving the streamed footage. The Brigade operates with two Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs – plug-in hybrid SUVs – and has split the drone equipment into two, with one vehicle carrying the drone and batteries, and the other carrying all the support kit and ancillaries. Working in dark conditions The drones are permitted to fly up to 400 ft above ground level or higher in an emergency and can fly as fast as 50 mph. They also can act as a loudspeaker to give instructions or reassurance and shine a bright spotlight in dark or low light conditions. 24/7 service The Brigade has eight pilots trained and operates a 24/7 service The Brigade has eight pilots trained and operates a 24/7 service. The team is working closely with its blue light partners, including the: Metropolitan Police Service, several search and rescue teams, and a host of fire services surrounding the capital, as well as giving advice to other upcoming drone teams around the UK. Use of drone in future The Brigade’s drone capability has been molded to how it sees the future and what it holds in the way of drone use. For example, the Brigade has developed a capability to drop water rescue aides to people at water incidents, which helps to keep them afloat long enough to be rescued. The drone can also be used alongside the swift water rescue teams to provide situational awareness of hazards and the resulting risks during the rescue phase. Delivering fire escape tools The Brigade also invested in fire escape hoods in late 2018 and has already demonstrated how one might be delivered via a drone to a balcony above the height of an aerial appliance while using the Mavic Enterprise 2 to relay instructions via the loudspeakers. These possible new uses are pushing the boundaries of the Brigade’s original concept and demonstrate how London Fire Brigade works to stay ahead of the curve. 

Chicago Bans Dogs From Firehouses, Despite Long-Held Tradition
Chicago Bans Dogs From Firehouses, Despite Long-Held Tradition

There is a long tradition of canines in the fire service, from Dalmatians riding shotgun in the fire truck to mixed breeds rescued from fires that later become the fire company mascot. The tradition has taken a hit recently in Chicago, where dogs are no longer allowed at firehouses after one station dog killed a smaller breed canine near a firehouse in the Englewood neighborhood. The incident The firehouse dog in Chicago, named Bones, was a mixed breed stray rescued off the street that was living at Engine 116 at 60th Street and Ashland Avenue. A neighbor was walking her smaller breed dog past the firehouse and watched in horror as Bones attacked and killed her small dog. After the incident, Chicago’s Acting Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt issued a department memo: “Any and all prior permissions for dogs in the fire stations or on fire apparatuses are hereby revoked … effective immediately.” Chicago Firehouse dogs Most of Chicago’s firehouse dogs are strays that were picked up and brought to firefighters by the public. Fire crews and paramedics care for the dogs, train them, feed them and get them inoculated and spayed or neutered, then ask formal permission to keep the dogs on site. Historically, permission has been granted, in effect saving the dogs from being euthanized. Breed of choice The tradition of dogs and the fire service goes back centuries, to the 1700s, when carriage dogs first trotted alongside horse-drawn fire carriages. Dalmatians were the breed of choice, given their good temperament, calming effect on the horses Dalmatians were the breed of choice, given their good temperament, calming effect on the horses, and grace under pressure. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) began utilizing Dalmatians as early as the 1870s. Dalmatians as firehouse ambassadors When motorized vehicles came on the scene, Dalmatians were already associated with firefighters, who continued to keep them on-site as firehouse residents and mascots. Increasingly, Dalmatians and other dogs became public ambassadors for firehouses and were involved in public education about fire safety and emergency preparedness for school and community groups. For example, Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog, a Dalmatian from Clarksville, Ark., was a character in her own set of children’s books about fire safety and traveled around the country teaching children about fire tips. reduce stress, provide comfort Currently, firehouse dogs are other breeds, too, many rescued from house fires or other tragedies. Firehouses often adopt dogs, who become symbols of resiliency, bravery, fortitude – and provide comfort and companionship for firefighters who face high levels of stress on the job. After the 9/11 attacks, two firefighters from Rochester, N.Y., gifted the FDNY Ladder 20 company a Dalmatian puppy, appropriately named Twenty. The dog served as a source of comfort to the firefighters, who lost seven members of the company in 9/11. Dogs recognize signals Taken in as a stray in 1929, a dog named Nip served 10 years with New York’s Engine Company No. 203. During his service, the dog was injured by broken glass, falling debris, scalding burns, and bruises from falling off the fire engine. Nip could recognize all bells and signals. On fire scenes, Nip could alert firefighters if he knew something was wrong and sometimes run into burning buildings to look for victims. Unfortunately, Nip was killed by a hit-and-run driver in front of the firehouse in 1939 (and was stuffed by a taxidermist and displayed at the firehouse until 1974). Dogs promote fire safety Dogs promote fire safety outside the firehouse Dogs also promote fire safety outside the firehouse. For example, accelerant-sniffing dogs are trained to detect minute traces of accelerants that may be used to start a fire, according to the State Farm Arson Dog Program. The special bond between firefighters and dogs is the stuff of legend, despite the recent unfortunate events in Chicago – an ignoble scar on a long, colorful history of dogs in the fire service. Hopes remain that the decision can somehow be reversed, based on social media postings. “This is the first tragedy I have heard of in … 25 years,” said the administrator of the Firehouse Pups group.

What Impact Has COVID-19 Had On The Fire Industry?
What Impact Has COVID-19 Had On The Fire Industry?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had ramifications for almost every industry, some more than others. With the pandemic stretching well into a second year, the non-medical consequences continue, and many are wondering about which of the required changes might become permanent. As regards the fire sector, we asked our Expert Panel Roundtable: What impact has COVID-19 had on the fire industry?