South East Wales

Pontypool's Brick Fabrication fined £30,000 over fire

The fire at Brick Fabrications Image copyright Gwyn Jenkins
Image caption The fire at Brick Fabrications

The owners of a Torfaen factory where fire broke out showed "total disregard" for safety, an investigation has found.

Brick Fabrication Limited in Pontypool was ordered to pay £30,000 following the blaze at its unit in July 2014.

Due to an "inappropriate fire alarm system", two members of staff were unaware fire had broken out and had to flee to safety amid flames and smoke.

The firm said it was "disappointed" with the outcome after admitting eight fire safety charges in court.

At Cwmbran Magistrates' Court on Monday, the prosecution said Brick Fabrication had not reviewed its fire risk assessment, which is also a legal requirement.

Magistrates fined the firm £22,350 and ordered it to pay costs of £8365.78 and a £120 victim surcharge.

Steve Rossiter, head of business fire safety at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, said: "When employees have to run under smoke and flames to escape from a building there is something seriously wrong."

Image copyright Gwyn Jenkins

An investigation found the fire started in a production area where flammable products were being sprayed in the vicinity of a power tool.

Sparks hit the residue of the flammable products and ignited.

A worker raised the alarm by shouting fire and the majority of the factory quickly evacuated.

But, because the fire alarm system was not adequate for the size and layout of the factory, two staff members taking their break in the canteen had no idea it was on fire and had to flee to safety underneath smoke and flames, placing them at "serious risk".

The investigation revealed that despite a fire risk assessment taking place in 2012, significant findings had not been acted upon, including the fitting of an automatic fire detection system.

The company also pleaded guilty to not providing adequate fire safety training for employees.

Mr Rossiter added: "In this case there was a total disregard for what are critical fire safety provisions, such as providing a basic fire alarm."

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