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Roundtuit  
#1 Posted : 25 April 2021 09:28:42(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/costa-coffee-shop-worker-fired-23976575

Assistant Manager wins case as judge decides 6 minutes (including collecting a coat) to evacuate a coffee shop is reasonable.

Roundtuit  
#2 Posted : 25 April 2021 09:28:42(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/costa-coffee-shop-worker-fired-23976575

Assistant Manager wins case as judge decides 6 minutes (including collecting a coat) to evacuate a coffee shop is reasonable.

stevedm  
#3 Posted : 26 April 2021 06:11:46(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

Dear God love us ...the judge didn't say that 6 minutes was a resonable time to evacuate ..he said it was unreasonable to sack someone for grabbing thier coat, no reasobale employer would have classified that as gross misconduct..right judgement in my view...

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A Kurdziel on 26/04/2021(UTC), DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC)
CptBeaky  
#4 Posted : 26 April 2021 08:11:34(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
CptBeaky

"The judge also said Mrs Dudenko was right to pause and assess the situation and that Costa was 'unreasonable' in concluding that six minutes was too long"

Whilst it may not have been the reason she was dismissed, the judge did say that it was not "unreasonable" to take six minutes to evacuate the coffe shop.

Mitigating was the fact the shop was inside another shop (Tesco's), it was a busy day around the Christmas rush, and there were elderly people taking their time to get out and customers wanting a refund.

Even given these I would suggest six minutes is far too long. The customers were not managed correctly (the dismissed lady was the senior member of staff that day). I don't know the lay out of the coffee shop, but normally these in store ones have their own exits in the shop. Anything above three minutes should be seriously questioned in most cases, in my opinion, as I recall 2.5 minutes is the suggested time.

I agree with the ruling that this was not gross misconduct, but it certainly was not the conduct expected of a senior member of staff.

A Kurdziel  
#5 Posted : 26 April 2021 08:30:49(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

Will some explain to me what an organised non-chaotic evacuation looks like, taking into account that these were   members of the great British Public having a brew while out shopping, not employees who had been trained to evacuate that building?  I am not sure where 2.5 minutes comes from but why was 6 minutes too slow?  Had the café management  run a drill and proved they could get everybody in less than six minutes?

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DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC)
Roundtuit  
#6 Posted : 26 April 2021 08:34:26(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

2.5 minutes may be acceptable in a non-retail workplace where the general public (young, infirm and disabled) are not present - possibly the head office bench mark against which the determination was made.

Ownership of the chain changed hands in 2019 from the previous hotel/restaraunt/pub company to a large international drinks manufacturer.

Edited by user 26 April 2021 08:36:24(UTC)  | Reason: ownership

thanks 4 users thanked Roundtuit for this useful post.
Kate on 27/04/2021(UTC), DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC), Kate on 27/04/2021(UTC), DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC)
Roundtuit  
#7 Posted : 26 April 2021 08:34:26(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

2.5 minutes may be acceptable in a non-retail workplace where the general public (young, infirm and disabled) are not present - possibly the head office bench mark against which the determination was made.

Ownership of the chain changed hands in 2019 from the previous hotel/restaraunt/pub company to a large international drinks manufacturer.

Edited by user 26 April 2021 08:36:24(UTC)  | Reason: ownership

thanks 4 users thanked Roundtuit for this useful post.
Kate on 27/04/2021(UTC), DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC), Kate on 27/04/2021(UTC), DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC)
CptBeaky  
#8 Posted : 26 April 2021 08:50:06(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
CptBeaky

I thought BS 9999 gave 2.5 minutes as the average expected time to get to a place of safety (I don't have a copy on me, or even available for this job). It has been a while, and maybe it has been updated, but as I recall it was 2/2.5/3 depending on risk. Where they got these numbers from I am not sure, although and urban legend in the distant reaches of my memory says something about marching soldiers through doors.

Maybe my knowledge of this is a little outdated now.

Roundtuit  
#9 Posted : 26 April 2021 09:16:45(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Approved Document B / BS 9999 - 2.5 minutes forms part of a design calculation for exit stairs:

In the formula, 200W represents the number of people estimated to have left the stair after 2.5 minutes of evacuation, and 50 (W – 0.3)(N – 1) represents the number of people estimated to be on the stair after 2.5 minutes of evacuation.

Roundtuit  
#10 Posted : 26 April 2021 09:16:45(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Roundtuit

Approved Document B / BS 9999 - 2.5 minutes forms part of a design calculation for exit stairs:

In the formula, 200W represents the number of people estimated to have left the stair after 2.5 minutes of evacuation, and 50 (W – 0.3)(N – 1) represents the number of people estimated to be on the stair after 2.5 minutes of evacuation.

CptBeaky  
#11 Posted : 26 April 2021 09:31:05(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
CptBeaky

Maybe it was BS 7974. Looks like I really need to go back and look at this area. It isn't overly relevant as our factory/warehouse is clear in under 2 minutes. I know I have been told this number in several fire warden training sessions too, which now has me questioning them.

John Murray  
#12 Posted : 26 April 2021 12:13:26(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
John Murray

"The tribunal found that Mrs Dudenko otherwise handled the evacuation of the store as best she could in the circumstances, given *** the very limited training she had received ***, the difficulties she experienced with customers refusing to leave the store and *** the absence of any assistance whatsoever from the other members of staff on duty that day ***"

A nice way of saying that the other staff departed as soon as.

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DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC)
achrn  
#13 Posted : 26 April 2021 13:53:36(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
achrn

The judgement is at https://assets.publishin...4102497.2020_-_Final.pdf

There's quite a bit more to it.

The claimant seems to have been the most useful person on the day.

The other staff do seem to have been useless - they first ignored the alarm for a couple of minutes, then abandoned ship leaving the claimant to deal with 60-70 customers (some of whom refused to believe it was real and refused to leave)  "She however, singlehandedly, evacuated the store. She was not  assisted  in  that  process by the two Barista Maestros or the Barista who were working with her that day."  No other staff were sanctioned.

The account of the investigation by Costa makes it sound rather a farce.

Also, "When the claimant started employment in January 2017, shewas asked to sign a contract of employment. She was not however provided with a copy of this at the  time and it cannot now be located by  the  respondent." So everyone agrees there's a written employment contract, but no-one knows where it is!

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chris42 on 28/04/2021(UTC), DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC)
stevedm  
#14 Posted : 27 April 2021 06:04:24(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

which was why the judge said it was reasonable, given the circumstances to evacuate in 6 minutes....threads like this on this forum instead of showing the professionalism of members of IOSH by debating the legislation, instead prefer to provide a headline and troll those who do not agree...no wonder the profession gets the names that it does...come on guys, if you want safety to be recognised in the way it should then act like it...

AcornsConsult  
#15 Posted : 27 April 2021 06:18:46(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
AcornsConsult

Originally Posted by: achrn Go to Quoted Post

The account of the investigation by Costa makes it sound rather a farce.

There are times when you know the desired outcome, remarkably, an investigation will usually achieve the very same outcome!!!
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A Kurdziel on 27/04/2021(UTC)
Kate  
#16 Posted : 27 April 2021 10:58:38(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kate

It's not in the remit of the employment tribunal to determine how evacuations should be done.  Their task was limited to determining whether the claimant was unfairly dismissed.

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kmason83 on 27/04/2021(UTC), A Kurdziel on 27/04/2021(UTC)
peter gotch  
#17 Posted : 27 April 2021 11:30:39(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

Each site has to be considered on its merits - nature of premises and nature of occupancy.

It used to take typically 6 minutes for our office to be evacuated to the satisfaction of our fire team.

About 1000 staff  along with other occupants using three staircases (in Listed Building 7 storeys (8 if you count the building manager's flat on the top) + basements predating all the British Standards) but it is not just the capacity of the staircases. Our muster points involved crossing busy city centre roads - couldn't muster "along the block" - the building WAS the block. So, 2 or 3 minutes for everyone to get to the outside of the building and the same time for all to get to their designated "place of safety".

Despite instructions not to do so, the reality is that people did collect their coats and in practice that didn't slow them down. What slowed them down was the capacity of the exit stairs and then safely crossing roads.

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A Kurdziel on 27/04/2021(UTC), Sharpe23621 on 28/04/2021(UTC)
biker1  
#18 Posted : 27 April 2021 11:43:38(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

Fire evacuation is an interesting phenomenom. A study many years ago revealed that many people went past several fire exits to leave the building the way they came in. Many people don't seem to recognise or respond to fire alarms, as they have become accustomed to hearing lots of noises and don't ascribe significance to alarms, as well as ignoring things like car alarms. Someone else will deal with it, is the attitude, aligned to the prevalence of bystander syndrome.

It doesn't surprise me that this debacle occurred in the retail sector. This sector is notoriously bad at complying with fire precautions, disability access and so on. Put the general public into the equation, and you have a real problem.

Gerry Knowles  
#19 Posted : 27 April 2021 12:57:57(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Gerry Knowles

Evacuation is always an interesting subject, especially when the general public are involved.  I remember seeing a documentary on the Woolworths fire In central Manchester where, as has been previously said a large number of shoppers, decided that the only way out was the entrance they came in by.  That may have been due to people just following the route they knew best, and fear of going into an unfamilar area.  The other striking thing was that at the time people were eating in the cafe on the top floor, some of them refused to leave despite the alarms going off and the staff telling them that it was not a drill and the building was burning.  I cannot for the life of me understand why they would not leave other than they had paid for their food and had decided to eat it before they left. 

On a more recent note, last Friday I was undertaking the usual shopping trip to our local supermarket when without warning the alarm went off, I just left my trolly and walked out, luckly I was near the front door.  I was the only one who left the shop.  When the alarm went off,  I re-entered and had a word with the security guy about the alarm, he said that it was a false alarm and I had no reason to leave, he was surprised that I had evacuated.  

So in summary, it is at times very difficult to get people to leave a building where they are either engaged in shopping or enjoying themselves.  So should we be worried, I guess we should, because some day some one will suffer either physically or mentally.  

Returning to the main question around whether six minutes is too long to evacuate, I believe it is, could the person in question have achieved it quicker, given my experience of people over many years probably not. It s an issue as a society we have to deal with and take more notice of, because one day it might just be real and as professionals or the general population we will have to deal with the aftermath!!!

Edited by user 27 April 2021 13:02:07(UTC)  | Reason: Review

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biker1 on 27/04/2021(UTC), A Kurdziel on 27/04/2021(UTC)
biker1  
#20 Posted : 27 April 2021 15:14:04(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

I have to admit that I went through a phase of fire alarms going off at places I visited some years ago (nothing I did, honestly). I have been evacuated from hotels, a shopping mall, and most famously a fire service headquarters. At one hotel, I had just reached my room when the alarm went off, so hadn't had the chance to suss out the fire exits, so went back to reception. I was the only one who did. At another hotel, I asked the receptionist out of interest what the evacuation arrangements were. He hadn't a clue. I then followed the route down one corridor, which went between the kitchen and dining room, so you can imagine the chaos, to the exit at the end of the corridor, where I found the stairwell blocked with furniture. I remain sceptical about the retail and hotel sector complying with fire precautions, and the general public having the ability to respond to alarms.

A Kurdziel  
#21 Posted : 27 April 2021 15:41:05(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

Let’s be honest Costa lost the cause for unfair dismissal  because it as obvious they just decided to make an example of the lady in question to show everybody who is boss. Management by fear I think this is called.  The staff in this sort of establishment are not  properly trained  or even motivated. The idea that she was “senior management” , which some one described her as is laughable.  The funny thing ( in a tragic makes you angry sort of way)  is the number of times I have been involved in a fire evacuation  and the last people out, usually minutes after everybody else,  are the senior executives who were engaged in some of  deeply important activity which take priority over evacuation. What sort of message does that send to people down the picking order?

And no, none of them go the sack!

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RVThompson on 28/04/2021(UTC), DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC)
achrn  
#22 Posted : 27 April 2021 21:10:00(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
achrn

Originally Posted by: Gerry Knowles Go to Quoted Post

The other striking thing was that at the time people were eating in the cafe on the top floor, some of them refused to leave despite the alarms going off and the staff telling them that it was not a drill and the building was burning.  I cannot for the life of me understand why they would not leave other than they had paid for their food and had decided to eat it before they left. 

Some of the Costa customers in this case were apparently demanding refunds before they'd leave.

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DavidGault on 30/04/2021(UTC)
chris42  
#23 Posted : 28 April 2021 08:03:31(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
chris42

From the link kindly provided by Achrn, the investigation leaves a lot to be desired. Some of those questions were very leading. However, the worst part was that neither of the two who carried out the investigation bothered to compare the times from previous evacuations specifically for that site. One of them thought there were only 30/40 people not the seventy that were actually there.

Interestingly one thought it should have been evacuated in 5 minutes only one minute less than it actually took. The other thought it should take 3 to 4 minutes.

Costa must be used to people demanding refunds and should have something in place for this. If someone has just taken out a mortgage for a couple of coffees and cakes and the moment they sit down the alarm goes off it is not difficult to understand. Yes, if it is a real fire of course your life is worth more, but this was just a drill. Perhaps they should have a stack of vouchers one free massive coffee per person and a cake for all those in the evacuation issued at the assembly point, if you get there in 5 minutes!

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CptBeaky on 28/04/2021(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#24 Posted : 28 April 2021 08:47:21(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

I remember after the Manchester Airport fire- 22 August 1985 the CAA was criticized because of the way they had conducted fire evacuation tests in the past. Essentially the test was carried out  by fit able volunteers who were primed to leave as soon as the alarm was raised. They could evacuate an aircraft in less than five minutes.  The volunteers were even told to wear running shoes to speed things up!  In a real world  situation that would not happen. You have to take into account that people not immediately respond to an alarm. It takes a while for them to realise  that it is an alarm. Even then some will be in denial that the emergency is real. They will evacuate using the route they used to come in rather than the fire exits. Then they dawdle: nobody wants to  be seen panicking or making a fool of themselves. Some people object to being told they need to do: I have been confronted  by people telling me  that they can choose which way to exit   and to stop raising my voice as its “upsetting”  as  I watch them going the wrong way past a fire exit to get to the lobby area which is rammed and they have to queue to go out!

 

Edited by user 28 April 2021 09:15:02(UTC)  | Reason: spellings

achrn  
#25 Posted : 28 April 2021 09:08:10(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
achrn

Originally Posted by: chris42 Go to Quoted Post

the worst part was that neither of the two who carried out the investigation bothered to compare the times from previous evacuations specifically for that site. One of them thought there were only 30/40 people not the seventy that were actually there.

That was one of the bits I boggled at - "JV indicated that if there are customers with disabilities in the store, evacuation may take 5 minutes. That was based on his understanding that the store’s capacity was 23-30 people, rather than up to 70."

'JV' is described as "Store Manager for the respondent", undertook the 'disciplinary hearing' that came after the investigation, a further investigation, a further disciplinary hearing, and yet still didn't know the capacity of the store he was talking about - and got it wrong by a factor of more than two!

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A Kurdziel on 28/04/2021(UTC)
peter gotch  
#26 Posted : 28 April 2021 10:34:46(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

achrn

Thanks for sharing the link.

I think the Tribunal overall took a very sensible approach.

"The Tribunal was entirely satisfied that, given the words she used and the fact that she is a litigant in person and not legally qualified or represented, while she had not put the correct legal labels on her claims and categorised them in terms under s99 ERA or s18 EqA, that is what she was asserting."

So they amended the claim to include an assertion that the dismissal was unfair due to the claimant's pregnancy and then concluded that it wasn't.

They thought it entirely appropriate that the claimant as Assistant Store Manager and the most senior member of Costa staff on site at the time should take a few seconds to assess the situation to help her decide how best to direct customers in terms of safe evacuation before going into panic mode and shouting "Fire, fire, get out, get out" or the sort of script you would expect in a Carry On film.

As has been indicated by others the Tribunal concluded that the investigation was far from a balanced one! Leading questions, no review of time taken to evacuate in previous drills or other alarm situations, and no consideration of why Costa might have been the last part of the Tesco store to be fully evacuated - not particularly surprising given its location on a mezzanine and with customers sitting down with their coats off, kids out of buggies etc etc.

What surprises me a little if the decision to reduce compensation by 25% for the claimant's decision to pick up her coat. Not looked back at the prevailing weather but this was in Edinburgh in December!!

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A Kurdziel on 28/04/2021(UTC), Kate on 28/04/2021(UTC)
biker1  
#27 Posted : 28 April 2021 14:55:16(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

I was once evacuated from a hotel when the alarm went off, coincidentally during a thunderstorm (might well have been what caused it). Everyone (well presumably everyone, as they didn't do a roll call) was then directed to stand under a tall tree. Go figure.

Holliday42333  
#28 Posted : 28 April 2021 15:16:54(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Holliday42333

Originally Posted by: A Kurdziel Go to Quoted Post

The funny thing ( in a tragic makes you angry sort of way)  is the number of times I have been involved in a fire evacuation  and the last people out, usually minutes after everybody else,  are the senior executives who were engaged in some of  deeply important activity which take priority over evacuation. What sort of message does that send to people down the picking order?

And no, none of them go the sack!

This reminds me of the time the local Fire & Rescue Service attended a call out to a facility I worked at to find that the Group Managing Director was missing.  A search team was dispatched to search for this individual who was quickly found in their office.  On having their door burst open by two fire officers in SCBA etc they ordered the fire officers to leave their office as they were on an important telephone call.  This call was summirally disconnected via fire axe and the individual unceremoniously bundled out of the building.  Still not getting the message, this individual then tried to chastise the Incident Commander on the scene.  Its fair to say that in front of the assembled 500(ish) staff the MD came off worse in the ensuing conversation.
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RVThompson on 28/04/2021(UTC), Kate on 29/04/2021(UTC)
peter gotch  
#29 Posted : 28 April 2021 16:00:13(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

This is the sorr of person who might have thought it a bright idea to put in a formal complaint about malicious damaage to the company telephone network?!?!

Holliday42333  
#30 Posted : 29 April 2021 09:40:27(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Holliday42333

Originally Posted by: peter gotch Go to Quoted Post

This is the sorr of person who might have thought it a bright idea to put in a formal complaint about malicious damaage to the company telephone network?!?!

Funny you should say that Peter as it was part of the ensuing 'conversation'

However the presence of three appliances worth of annoyed Fire & Rescue personnel and a fire officer wearing a white hat with multiple black bands around it managed to convince them of the error of their ways and the potential further consequences.  This being the early '90s some of the points put across were not exactly politically correct in todays world.

To be fair there is more to this story in mitigation and appropriate learnings but the event itself is as I described it.

Edited by user 29 April 2021 09:41:18(UTC)  | Reason: Spelling etc

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peter gotch on 29/04/2021(UTC)
biker1  
#31 Posted : 29 April 2021 10:30:56(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
biker1

All of this does call to mind the old debate about whether you should inform staff of a fire drill in advance. Whilst such advance knowledge can avoid inconveniences and conflicting agenda, there is an argument that staff not knowing in advance ensures a more realistic response (or not).

Kate  
#32 Posted : 29 April 2021 10:52:53(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kate

I was once tipped off in advance about an unannounced fire drill because I worked in a portacabin outside the main building where I might not be able to hear the alarm.  I was instructed to position myself where I would be able to hear it.

I am not sure what the exact purpose of that drill was.

Alan Haynes  
#33 Posted : 29 April 2021 11:00:01(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Alan Haynes

Originally Posted by: Kate Go to Quoted Post

I was once tipped off in advance about an unannounced fire drill because I worked in a portacabin outside the main building where I might not be able to hear the alarm.  I was instructed to position myself where I would be able to hear it.

I am not sure what the exact purpose of that drill was.

To show they cared about you?  Or to show you what you were missing?  Surely not just to get the numbers right????

firesafety101  
#34 Posted : 29 April 2021 11:00:15(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
firesafety101

My eggs boil for 4 minutes and they are just right for dipping my soldiers, Can't dip firefighters though ha ha.

I was in a Cornwall hotel when the fire alarm sounded, wife and disabled daughter in third floor bedroom.  I began to evacuate and when in the staircase saw wife and daughter ready to come downstais, daughter on her bottom.

The DJ told us to wait where we are while he checks it out.  Noone else moved.

I contacted the local fire safety department and they investigated, called me back and told me it was acceptable.

There had been a recent hotel fire where people had died.

IMO the lady was treated poorly by the coffee company and happy she won her claim.

I work as a steward for disabled fans at Everton FC and I know the tim eit taked to evacuate disabled people. 

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A Kurdziel on 29/04/2021(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#35 Posted : 29 April 2021 11:04:45(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

Since we are now talking about pointless fire drills this one takes the biscuit.

At a previous employer we had a site down south in Hampshire and rather than drag someone down from God’s own country to check the site , we arranged for a local fire safety adviser to check the place out. The report they sent back mentioned a concern over the lack of fire drills at the site.  Having spent money on this we decided to comply with the report’s recommendations. I talked to the people on the site. The site consisted of a farm field with portacabin in the middle of it. The single room was occupied by two people.  It was agreed that at some point each year one of them would shout “fire”   and then they would evacuate the building, one exiting through the main door, the other through the fire exit.  The would meet up under the oak tree and discuss the days events and then return to the office. Every year they did this, and they meticulously logged it.

We didn’t use that fire safety adviser anymore.

peter gotch  
#36 Posted : 29 April 2021 14:40:33(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

AK - but they recorded this which would be good for your ISO accreditations.

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A Kurdziel on 30/04/2021(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#37 Posted : 30 April 2021 08:45:39(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

Yes another KPI ticked off

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