Skip to content
Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service logo

Fire and Rescue

Accessibility Feedback

Businesses warned not to flout fire safety following successful prosecutions

Two Fire Protection Officers for Northamptonshire, wearing fluorescent yellow jackets with the words 'NFRS Fire Protection' on them, examine a kitchen during an inspection.

Businesses who flout fire safety laws and needlessly put peoples’ lives in danger will be pursued to the full extent of the law – in a stark warning from Fire Protection Officers in Northamptonshire.

Taking businesses to court is a rare occurrence for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, but the Protection Team within the Service has been forced to head down the legal route twice within the last five months – the first time in a number of years that such action has been required.

In December, the owners of a business pleaded guilty to offences under the Fire Safety Order at Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court.

Back in August 2022, a serious fire occurred in the lower ground of a block of flats in Northampton that belonged to the company. A fire door at the premises did not have a self-closing device fitted, which meant that smoke entered the staircase and hindered escape routes. Firefighters ended up having to enter the premises and rescue a resident from the staircase who was trying to escape.

“Given the circumstances in this fire we decided to gather further details,” explains John Pratt, a Protection Team Leader at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.

“Our subsequent investigation found that the premises’ fire risk assessment in June 2021 had identified that the self-closing device – which is designed to close fire doors and stop the blaze from spreading – had not been fitted properly and needed to be rectified as a matter of urgency.

“The fire obviously happened more than a year later, so the basis of our case was that they had failed to provide sufficient means of escape and had failed to rectify the deficiencies identified in the 2021 report.”

This followed a successful case where a takeaway restaurant in Northampton had pleaded guilty in November at Northampton Magistrates’ Court for breaching a fire prohibition notice that had been served on it.

Fire Protection Officers had found that storerooms in the basement had been converted into bedrooms, compromising fire safety. After prohibiting them from letting staff sleep on the premises, a follow-up inspection a day later in February 2023 found the notice had already been breached.

John Pratt added: “We don’t go down this route very often, these two cases were the first in a number of years as generally most buildings are broadly compliant with fire safety regulations. The strength of the cases we built meant both defendants pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

“When we look at whether to prosecute, we have to identify that it’s in the public interest to do so and that there has been an immediate risk to life.

“The threshold for this action is particularly high, but due to these cases including a breach of a formal notice and a person being placed at a serious risk during a fire, the decision for our senior leaders to pursue a prosecution was clear.

“If there’s a risk to life it’s usually a simple decision for us. It’s our role and duty to create a safe environment for the people of Northamptonshire, so when we do come across flaws and deficiencies, we take decisive action.

“Primarily though, we want to help support businesses and organisations to maintain and improve the safety of their premises for their staff, visitors and customers.”

Businesses can contact the Protection Team at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service for specialist advice, and to receive a bespoke safety approach by emailing

There is also a suite of safety tips and advice for businesses and responsible persons at

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service logo

Welcome to Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service

It looks like you're using an old version of Internet Explorer. In order to have the best experience possible with this site, please update your browser to the latest version of Microsoft Edge, or use a different browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.x

Download Google Chrome   or   Download Mozilla FireFox