A Morley-based company has been fined £128,000 for breaking fire safety rules.
Fire protection inspectors found Al Murad DIY Limited broke a number of safety regulations at its sites in Morley, Batley and Leeds.
The offences including locking fire doors, having faulty fire alarms and not keeping fire escapes clear.
Company director Irfaan Murad Patel, 35, today (Friday) pleaded guilty to 20 charges brought by West Yorkshire Fire Service.
Prosecutor Sarah Dinnock said that if a fire had broken out at any of the three sites inspected, the failures would have placed a “risk of serious injury or death” on people present.
Fire Protection inspectors recorded five offences at the Howley Park Estate, Morley, and another five at a store in Torre Road, Leeds, between 2013 and August this year. Ten breaches were found at their Halifax Road shop in Batley – the final two being recorded less than a month after the last inspection.
Fire doors were locked or not kept open, and emergency exits were blocked with wooden pallets or combustible stock.
Risk assessments were not carried out, there were faulty alarms and the company had not properly trained employees in fire safety.
One of the blocked fire escapes was at the bottom of a stairwell, meaning staff would have had to go back up if a fire occurred.
Ian Sharman, mitigating, said his client was “extremely perturbed” by the failires and offered a “complete and unreserved apology” for it.
The company has now put in place as many safety measures as it possibly could, he said.
The court heard a contractor was now carrying out risk assessments every six weeks. Mr Sharman said staff had all been issued with further information about what was expected of them in terms of fire safety and had signed relevant documents to confirm this.
But magistrates said that it was “too little, too late.”
Al Murad was fined £6,000 each for the first 18 offences, and £10,000 each for the last two. It was also ordered to pay £6,307.60 in costs and a £120 victim surcharge.
The fine must be paid within 14 days.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Sercvice senior fire protection manager Chris Kemp said: “I hope the level of the fine sends a message to other companies out there.”