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THREE men jailed for ignoring fire safety regulations after a blaze ripped through a Shisha lounge in Birmingham – and almost killed a couple.

Of the three men jailed, Kazim Mashedi, 46, the main lease holder, of the building in High Street, Derit End , was sentenced to 18 months after admitting six breaches of fire safety law.

Waquas Rehman and Sulaman Rahid, both 30, who had both pleaded guilty to five breaches, were each jailed for eight months.

Mashedi was ordered to pay £14, 736 costs and the other two defendants £6,000 each.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that Mashedi had sublet the Shisha Lounge to Rehman and Rahid while other parts were being used for sleeping accommodation when they should not have been.

Michael Atkinson and Sherelle Gordon who were sleeping in the building “escaped death by seconds” when they fell from their second-floor bedsit after the floor collapsed.

There was also a wooden walkway constructed which had not received any planning permission.

The blaze was the result of an arson attack on the premises in the early hours of Christmas Day 2013.

Mr Atkinson, who worked as security, and Miss Gordon were awoken at around 3am and saw thick black smoke and flames.

As the flames started to come through the patio doors, the couple covered themselves in a wet blanket and Mr Atkinson also grabbed his dog.

The floor then collapsed as they were perched on a ledge and both fell to concrete below, suffering injuries including broken bones, cuts and bruises.

They were then left trapped in a courtyard but Mr Atkinson managed to climb over a wall and both were helped to escape.  The poor dog perished in the fire.

In passing sentence Judge Richard Bond said that the walkway was an “accident waiting to happen” and that in the part of the building where the couple were there were no smoke alarms or detectors.

He said that the 999 call Mr Atkinson made was “harrowing” and went on: “They escaped death by seconds. This had a profound and lasting impact upon them.”

The judge said that it was a high risk premises and that the walkway should have been built from fire resistant material rather than wood which was cheaper.

He added, any attempt to install alarms or detectors had been “woefully ineffective.”

The judge also said that the Shisha Lounge had been packed with sofas which provided a ready source of fuel once the fuel had started.

He said, the three men jailed had “put their desire to make money from the Shisha Lounge before the welfare and safety of others.” and had “done almost nothing in relation to fire safety.”

While he said Mashedi, who had run other Shisha lounges, had shown no remorse and described as an “arrogant and selfish man who simply cares about himself”.

It costs less to ensure fire safety is sufficient within your premises than the fines and prison sentences.  You can start by booking a Fire Risk Assessment by clicking here.


Original Source

Birmingham Mail

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