Cumbria and Lancashire Fire Safety

Arson Prevention – A Guide to Protecting Your Premises

Nearly 60% of businesses never recover after a fire. This is a devastating statistic, but what’s even more worrying is that around half the fires attended by the UK Fire and Rescue services each year are suspected to have been started deliberately. For this reason, it is crucial that as a business, you carry out an arson risk assessment and put an arson prevention plan in place in order to protect your livelihood.

Fires may be started deliberately for all sorts of reasons. Premises could be targeted because of corporate practices, ethics or links with other organisations, or it may just be opportunistic. Alternatively, the fire could have been started by someone linked to the business where a relationship has soured.

In other words, no business is safe from the threat of arson. Prevention strategies must therefore be put in place, and a core part of these will include an arson risk assessment.

The arson risk assessment will form part of the overall fire risk assessment, which must be carried out and reviewed by law under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

An arson fire risk assessment is key to identifying issues that may present a risk. Such issues may include accessible combustible waste, poor premises security, inadequate attention to the safe storage of flammable and hazardous substances, and a lack of staff awareness to potential threats.

Arson Prevention

Key arson prevention strategies

The following should form part of your arson prevention plan.

Fire risk assessments

Carry out a fire risk assessment which pays specific attention to the arson fire risk within and around your premises. Ensure any identified hazards are addressed and controlled, and be sure to review your fire risk assessment on a regular basis so that it remains current and relevant. For example, risks may change seasonally, such as during the festive season when there is perhaps more waste stored externally.

Staff training

Be sure to train staff so that they are aware of what to look out for in terms of arson fire risk threats. For example, looking out for unfamiliar people in restricted areas, and reporting any potential issues they spot, such as stacked up waste and incorrectly stored hazardous substances.

Access control

An access control system, preferably one combined with CCTV, will allow you to limit access to your premises and certain parts of it, as well as monitor who is in certain places at certain times. CCTV makes it possible to cross-verify the identity of the people who’ve been allowed to gain access, as well as tracking the likes of tailgating through barriers.

It’s also vital that access codes, cards or fobs or smart keys are deactivated for staff who have left, and cancelled for those who only needed them temporarily, such as contractors.

Physical security

From perimeter fencing and security doors to gates, shutters, bars, grilles and barriers, it is vital that your physical security measures are adequate for your premises type and size, and level of threat. A regular security review is a good idea and should be carried out in conjunction with a suitably accredited security professional.

Invest in patented locks to make copying more of a challenge, and ensure all locks, including padlocks, conform to current security and insurance standards.

Finally, make sure your physical security measures are regularly serviced and well-maintained to ensure you can rely on them when it matters most.

Fire control measures

Installing sprinkler systems where practical will help control fire should it break out. And you can also reduce the chances of fire spreading from a letterbox attack by installing automatic fire extinguishers.

Storage

As part of your arson risk assessment, you should look at external storage of combustible goods, including waste, crates and pallets. Preferably they will be locked in fireproof containers. Any outside storage should be a minimum of 10 metres away from buildings and other structures.

Any flammable or hazardous substances should be stored separately from combustible goods in suitable, secure containers, preferably outside and as far away from buildings and the site perimeter as possible.

End of day routine

You can reduce your arson fire risk by putting an end of day routine in place. This should include a comprehensive check that all security measures are in place and activated, and that all combustible materials are stowed away and there is no waste left on display. Make sure all external doors and windows are locked, that internal doors are closed, and that there are no unauthorised persons left on the premises.

The importance of the fire risk assessment for arson prevention

Everyone who is responsible for a building is also legally responsible for keeping it and the people within it safe from the risk of fire.

A fire risk assessment helps you understand and identify potential fire risks, including arson fire risks, so you can improve your fire safety measures.

At BPW Fire Safety, our experienced and qualified fire safety specialists are on hand to help you with your arson prevention plan, courtesy of a range of fire risk assessment services.

We work across Cumbria, Penrith, Kendal and Carlisle. To discover how we can assist in reducing your arson fire risk, please contact BPW Fire Safety today.