GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) is
calling on businesses in Manchester's Northern Quarter to work with
it to prevent any more serious fires following three major blazes
in the area in recent months - including one that claimed the life
of Firefighter Stephen Hunt.
The Service has launched a campaign with Manchester City Council
to make the area a safer place and ensure it continues to be a
strong and vibrant part of the city.
A full time fire officer has been dedicated to work with the
Council to offer businesses advice, support and, if necessary, take
The campaign has been launched following the fire at Paul's Hair
World on Oldham Street last weekend, which claimed the life of
Firefighter Hunt from Philip's Park and was one of three major
blazes in the area in just three months.
County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk said: "We have met with
colleagues from Manchester City Council following last Saturday's
tragedy to look at how we work together alongside businesses and
residents of the Northern Quarter to look again at fire safety in
"We don't want to be alarmist but with the nature of the
building stock and occupancy of the area, there is almost certainly
a lot more we can do to raise awareness of fire safety and to work
in partnership to make improvements - not least get sprinklers
fitted where appropriate.
"We have agreed a number of steps in the short term and I'm
pleased that the City Council is enormously supportive of the way
forward and we are very grateful for this support."
Crews tackled serious fires in the area in April and June - both
of which caused major disruptions and destroyed buildings.
As part of the campaign, GMFRS is working with New Economy, City
Co, the Northern Quarter Business Association, the Fire Protection
Association and the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association
and have set up a safety support team.
Councillor Pat Karney, Manchester City Council's city centre
spokesman, said: "The Northern Quarter is a vibrant and important
part of the city centre, but it also has many of the city's older
buildings so it's a major priority to improve fire safety.
"As well as improving safety for Manchester residents and
visitors, we owe this to the memory of Stephen Hunt who sacrificed
his life to protect us.
"We're very proud of the area's businesses and we're sure they will
work with us and rise to the challenge."
Councillor David Acton, Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and
Rescue Authority, said: "GMFRS is looking at innovative approaches
to support businesses in a wider area than the Northern Quarter and
will be meeting more groups of people and consulting academics and
experts from the insurance and sprinkler industries.
"We need to see how this work can bring down insurance costs for
businesses and how sprinkler companies can deliver systems, which
meet British Standards but are still affordable."
However, GMFRS has issued a stark warning to businesses that
safety is being taken extremely seriously and whilst the Service is
working with businesses it will not hesitate to take action when
necessary if public safety is not made a priority.
Just this week, GMFRS prosecuted a Northern Quarter business
owner who rented out a property in Back Turner Street as a house in
multiple occupancy without the most basic fire safety measure in
place - putting the lives of tenants at risk.
Liaqat Malik (21/11/58), of Chadwick Hall Road, Rochdale, was
convicted of six fire safety offences and fined Â£7,500 ,with costs
of Â£8,498 and a victim surcharge of Â£120 when he appeared at
Manchester City Magistrates' Court on July 17.