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Protecting business from arson


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Fire Service data shows that there has been a persistent and continuing increase in the number of intentional fires attended by the Fire Service. In the event of a fire, a business continuity plan will be invaluable.

Some 80% of firms without such a plan will be bankrupt within five years of surviving a major disaster. To protect business from the threat of arson there are a number of key steps to take.

Result of arson


Bill Hewitt, Fire Safety Director at Newflame advises, “The occurrence of arson can be reduced and its effects controlled if consideration is given in advance to identifying potential threats and effective protection measures. An arson risk assessment should be carried out as part of the Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) procedure required by the Regulatory Reform Order (FSO) 2005. In every business there should be a named Responsible Person, who is made accountable for fire safety for their company; including protection from arson attack. This person should be trained and competent to conduct an Arson Risk Assessment.”

Steps of an FRA include studying the vulnerability of the building, identifying both the fire hazards and those who could start a fire in order to reduce the threat of arson, removing potential sources such as flammable liquids and checking security measures, particularly at night time. Fire safety measures need to be considered to reduce the speared of potential fire and risks need to be allocated and recorded so that a business continuity plan can be prepared, which is reviewed periodically as the business changes over time.

All the measures taken to protect a building from accidental fire have a part to play in reducing the effects of a fire which is started deliberately. These include both passive fire protection; dividing the building into individual fire compartments, using materials of suitable fire resisting properties and active fire protection; providing appropriate, cost effective equipment to detect and fight fires. Both passive and active fire protection measures require regular inspection and maintenance. Service contracts need to be set up with accredited contractors for the installed equipment and the fire safety manager should also ensure that regular inspections are made of escape routes, fire doors and housekeeping standards and that a suitable record of these inspections are kept.

Newflame’s Bill Hewitt adds, “Good staff and community relations will enhance the degree of co-operation from the workforce with regard to protecting the business from an arson attack, either from an outside source or from a member of staff. Close liaison also needs to be maintained with the fire brigade, police and insurers in order to take all practical measure to reduce the likelihood of an arson attack. It is not unusual for a major arson fire to be proceeded by one or two smaller attacks; any fire should be carefully investigated so that lessons may be learned and action taken to avoid a recurrence.”

January 2009 - Peterborough UK Community Website

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