The Oasis Lounge in Hulme, Manchester is at the centre of a row about customer safety. Although bosses have denied any wrongdoing at the shisha bar, they are currently on trial for violations of fire safety standards.
At a hearing before the Crown Court in Manchester, inspectors gave damning evidence of the hazards facing anyone entering this high risk environment. Although there was space for up to a hundred punters to relax while smoking from water pipes, there was a serious risk of this activity starting a fire.
The process of firing up the Turkish-style pipes involves setting charcoal alight. Unfortunately, it was found that the fire exit did not open correctly, and there were combustible materials such as cardboard boxes stashed in the vicinity. Worse still, the fire alarm had not been activated.
All these factors meant that customers entering the premises for a leisurely smoke were at risk of various lethal possibilities – exposure to fire, inhalation of fumes, and toxic poisoning. The fact that there was only one fire exit, and this was not even functional, meant that there was a real danger of people being crushed to death in the event of a fire starting.
What happens when counter-measures are ignored?
Fire prevention officers have a duty to investigate premises and report on potentially hazardous situations. An example of a high risk environment would be one with inadequate smoke detection, the presence of combustible materials, and non-functioning fire exit doors. Where any of these are detected, a prohibition notice can be posted.
In the case of commercial premises, this will warn customers of the dangers. The consequences of failing to act on these recommendations can be lethal, as their ultimate aim is to safeguard lives, as well as protecting property.
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Date Published: April 8, 2015
Author: Rob Steen