ARSON: DO YOU KNOW THE RISKS?
Recent UK fire statistics show that arson accounts for over 40% of fires in business premises and over 20% in residential properties.
It can be argued that all premises are potential targets for arson. It is clear however that some are particularly vulnerable such as schools, unoccupied buildings, and places of worship, newspaper premises, farms, and animal research establishments.
It is imperative that an arson risk assessment is carried out by a competent person as part of an overall fire risk assessment, as required under fire safety legislation. The assessment should be formally documented and reviewed regularly.
Tips on storing hazardous items
1. Waste materials should be removed at the end of each working day, or more frequently as necessary, dependent on the nature of the business.
2. All waste materials should be held securely in bins or skips at least 10m from the building and at least 2m from the site perimeter.
3. Where a 10m space is not achievable, waste should be held in lockable metal containers located as far away from doors, windows, canopies or overhanging roofs as possible
4. If plastic wheeled bins are used, ensure they are located away from doors, windows to prevent movement by potential arsonists
5. External storage of timber pallets, plastic crates and other combustibles should be kept to a minimum and located a minimum of 10m from buildings and structures
6. Hazardous materials such as flammable liquids and gases should be located in secure storage facilities and petrol and diesel pumps immobilised
Security decisions should be driven by the arson risk assessment and should also incorporate any specific requirements of insurers.
Security measures may include:
• Perimeter security fencing
• Physical protection to buildings
• Intruder alarm with remote signalling to an alarm receiving centre
• Security lighting
• Remotely monitored CCTV
• Manned guarding
• Access control
Key security should be strictly controlled and the building fabric should be maintained in good repair. For example:
• Gaps beneath external doors should be kept as small as possible and sealed
• Letterboxes should be fitted internally with metal receptacles
• Unused letter boxes should be permanently sealed
Employees should be made aware of the risk of arson and encouraged to challenge any strangers on the premises and report suspicious behaviour. Care should also be taken in the recruitment of staff, with references taken and verified. All contractors working on the premises should be suitably supervised.
Effective closedown procedures are vital to controlling arson, fire and theft risks.
Arrangements should include an inspection of all areas prior to closure each day to ensure that waste materials have been removed; flammable liquids and gases have been locked away. Staff and visitors have left the building and all fire and security protection systems are working.
· The most common time for fires to be reported are between 8pm and 9pm.
· Fire and Rescue Services attended over 212, 000 fires in England and Wales during 2013.
· In 2013-2014, the number of reported fires started deliberately in houses and other buildings in England and Wales was over 9,000.
· In 2013-2014, there were over 22,200 fires recorded in buildings which were not residential dwellings in England and Wales.
· In excess of 4,600 fires were recorded during this period in domestic garages and sheds.
· Restaurants, cafes, pubs accounted for over 2,200 fires recorded during this period.
· Over 1,900 fires were recorded in communal living locations – i.e blocks of flats for instance.
For further guidance on Fire Safety speak to your local Fire Service or visit www.firesafe.org.uk
Andrew Long Cert CII
Commercial Account Executive at Cass Stephens Insurances Ltd
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