A GWENT company must pay over £30,000 for ignoring fire safety laws after a massive fire at a factory in Pontypool.

The blaze, which was attended by 14 fire appliances and 58 firefighters, was at Brick Fabrication Limited, at Gemini Works, Pontypool.

Due to the fact that an automatic fire detection system had not been installed, some workers in the canteen at Brick Fabrication Limited were unaware the fire had broken out and had to escape under smoke and flames.

The investigation into the fire found that a fire risk assessment had been completed around two years before the fire but some significant findings were not acted upon. One of the major findings was to fit the automatic fire detection system.

This would have given an earlier warning to the two employees in the canteen allowing them to escape much more quickly and not placing them at serious risk.

Following the investigation by South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Brick Fabrication appeared at Cwmbran Magistrates Court on May 23 where they company pleaded guilty to all eight charges.

The court heard how Brick Fabrication had not reviewed their fire risk assessment, which is also a legal requirement. The company also did not have the correct fire safety arrangements in place which would have identified that all the significant findings of the risk assessment had not been acted upon.

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

Magistrates imposed close to the maximum fines available for each offence, a total of £22,350.

As well as the fine, the firm was ordered to pay costs to the Fire Authority of £8635.78 and a further £120 victim surcharge to the court.

Steve Rossiter Head of Business Fire Safety at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said, “A fire risk assessment is at the heart of the fire safety legislation, it provides information that enable business owners and persons’ with responsibility to maintain a safe premises. In this case there was a total disregard for what are critical fire safety provisions, such as providing a basic fire alarm. When employees have to run under smoke and flames to escape from a building there is something seriously wrong”.

He added: "It is pleasing that the courts acknowledge such failures as significant and they have imposed fines to reflect this. This enables the Fire and Rescue Service to pass a strong message to its business community. Our approach is to support businesses to protect themselves, so they continue operating whilst supporting the local economy; however we cannot and will not turn a blind eye when faced with such poor fire safety provisions”.