Fire chiefs find ‘serious’ safety breaches at first floor of Nag’s Head Market – days after private firm found it ‘low risk’

Nag's Head Market.

Nag's Head Market. - Credit: Archant

London Fire Brigade (LFB) has issued a probation notice to Nag’s Head Market, restricting its first floor capacity to 60 people due to unaddressed fire risks – days after a private firm ruled it safe.

Owners of the covered market in Seven Sisters Road have run into another hurdle to opening the new Upper Place floor, after a letter authorised by the London Fire Commissioner placed "immediate" restrictions on the venue's capacity citing four major fire hazards.

There was "insufficient" fire separation between floors, "inadequate" escape routes that aren't properly fire protected, and speedy, safe evacuation was "compromised" as people would have to flee through areas of "high fire risk".

The letter signed by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Rhys Powell, dated July 4, states there is "a risk to persons so serious that the use of the premises ought to be prohibited". It adds: "In the opinion of the Commissioner the risk of serious personal injury to the relevant persons is imminent."

The LFB's report contradicts findings from private firm Firecare 999, which published its own 32-page report on July 1.

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This found the fire exits, "robust" emergency evacuation plan" and lack of fire protection between separate floors all to be "low" risk. It gives the Upper Place an overall "low risk" fire rating.

It concludes: "On this occasion there were no significant fire safety deficiencies identified." But, under the law, the LFB is the enforcing authority for safety orders.

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Cllr Gary Heather (Lab, Finsbury Park) accused the Nag's Head Market bosses of trying to "gag" him, after they suggested his tweets calling out the alleged fire safety breaches were "libellous" and potentially "actionable".

"They did that report and then the London Fire Brigade found four serious things," Cllr Heather told the Gazette. "They tried to gag me to stop me - an elected councillor - talking about their shortcomings."

The Nag's Head management said: "The safety of the people who shop and work at the market has always been our highest priority and it always will be. The recent building works were all done under the supervision of expert consultants and received the necessary safety certificates. So it has come as a bolt from the blue that anything should be found wanting. But obviously we have complete respect for LFB and are working to comply fully."

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