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A ROGUE firework trader has been handed an 18 week jail sentence after being found guilty of storing explosives without a licence at a hearing in Rochdale Magistrates Court.
Robert Phelps, 31, of no fixed abode was handed the sentence, which was suspended for 12 months, on Tuesday, September 13, 2016.
Phelps was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.
The bench heard how an off duty fire safety officer drove past a commercial unit on York Street, Bury, and noticed a banner advertising fireworks for sale.
After checks revealed the unit had no licence to store explosives specialist fire safety officers returned to the building on October 21, 2015.
They found boxes of fireworks stored throughout the premises and on open display without any safety measures in place to protect staff or the public. No licence could be provided and no risk assessment had been carried out.
The bench heard how the fireworks were stored without any protective barriers and that a fire would have developed rapidly with significant explosions putting people in the shop, surrounding businesses and emergency services at risk.
Cassie Williams, prosecuting, told the court that Phelps had intentionally disregarded the law and the harm posed to members of the public was serious with the risk of burns and permanent injury being obvious.
Laura Baumans, defending, said Phelps had been out of work and decided to invest money from a personal injury claim into setting up a motorbike business to better his life, but after discussion with a friend he decided to sell fireworks as a short term lucrative business.
Miss Baumans told the court he had now lost everything.
Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, David Acton, said: “Phelps disregarded the law and his reckless attitude placed the public, his staff and emergency services at risk.
“Selling fireworks can be a lucrative business, but traders must adhere to the law and store these potentially deadly explosives properly.
“Our team of specialist officers and staff provide an excellent licencing service and anyone intending to sell fireworks must visit www.manchesterfire.gov.uk or call 0800 555 815 to apply for a licence.
“If you try to sell fireworks without a licence you are putting the public at risk - we will find you and we will prosecute you.”
Notes to Editors
The GMFRA is the Licensing Authority for the storage of up to 2500kg of Explosives under the Explosives Regulations 2014.
The storage of explosives including fireworks is potentially dangerous and if not stored safely there is a risk to life and property and the potential to cause widespread damage and business interruption.
It is vital therefore that all types of explosives are stored safely and in accordance with relevant regulations.
Anyone can apply for a licence and a licence can be issued to an individual or a company but is site specific. In order to obtain a licence, the applicant must be a fit and proper person to hold a licence and the proposed site must be suitable to store the types and quantities of explosives allowed under the licence. Limits can be placed on the amount and type of explosives that can be stored.
To obtain a licence an individual completes an online application form on which they must specify the details of the site, the type and quantity of explosives they intend to store and provide a plan and risk assessment for the premises. As part of the application process there is a declaration provided at the end of the form which the applicant must complete, this declaration covers the important areas relating to the safe storage of fireworks.
Once a licence is issued, conditions are attached to the licence which specify how the fireworks are to be stored to ensure the risks are minimised. These conditions include the maximum amount of fireworks that can be stored in a sales area and conditions that ensure all fireworks are stored in a way that they cannot be accessed by members of the public.
The reason that the storage of fireworks is regulated in this way is based on the risk that they pose in the event of a fire. Where fireworks or other explosives are present a fire once ignited is harder to control and extinguish and would develop and spread more quickly because of the explosive content and projectile nature of the design of the products.
A fire occurring on premises where fireworks are stored would result in an explosive effect with individual fireworks presenting a projectile hazard and would quickly spread to other fuel sources. The effect of a fire and explosion involving fireworks can be catastrophic and would put anyone in the vicinity at risk in addition to Firefighters attempting to extinguish the fire.
As part of the application process an applicant is required to stipulate which types of explosives they wish to store, in what quantity and provide information about the intended place of storage. The cost of the licence depends on the quantity and type of explosives being stored at the premises