Arson advice for businesses
Most arson fires affecting business are started outside of the premises. The culprits are often vandals with no other motive than to cause trouble. They light fires with anything to hand - waste packaging, rubbish in open skips and plastic trays/pallets.
Fires also occur inside the premises and are often associated with vandalism and burglaries. Other causes include people who may be mentally ill, extremists or even a member of staff with a grudge.
Reduce the threat
Bins are an easy target for arsonists. On wheels, they can be pushed against the building. They contain materials which can be removed and stacked against external doors before being ignited. Keep bins in a locked compound or bin room. If this is not possible, chain the bins to an immovable object, well clear of buildings or other property. Try to use bins that have lockable lids.
Safely store items which could be used to start a fire
Many fires in the workplace are caused by deliberate ignition of combustible items stored too close to the building. Ideally, you should try to maintain a gap of at least eight metres between the external walls of any building and combustibles.
Common targets for arsonists are:
Check the outside of your buildings as a matter of urgency and act where appropriate!
Ensure gaps, particularly at the bottom, are kept to a minimum.
Fires Which Have Self-Extinguished
Always request Fire Service attendance, by dialling 999, for any incidence of fire, even when it appears a fire has self-extinguished. This is because Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue look for trends, in respect of all fires. The Arson Task Force specifically look for patterns where fires are caused by deliberate ignition. Your fire could be the missing piece from the jigsaw.
Intruder Alarm/Security Lighting/CCTV
These need to be maintained so that they are in working order and used at all appropriate times.
CCTV tapes should be replaced regularly to ensure a high standard of picture quality. Especially as your video footage may be used in court as evidence.
Do you need it? If you do, ensure a metal mailbox is provided on the inside. If you don’t, then consider sealing it up. A metal mailbox will contain most burning materials, including fireworks, pushed through the letter flap. If the flap is well fitted and maintained properly, it will close following the introduction of a burning item, and restrict the oxygen supply to feed the flames. Sophisticated letter flaps and mail containers are also available which can contain any liquid accelerant, such as petrol, if this is put through the letter box.
Try to promote good relations with neighbours, especially those who overlook your property. Encourage them to contact the Police if they see intruders within your grounds, or if they see anything suspicious nature involving your premises.
Ensure that these are well maintained and that any breaches are repaired promptly. Consider providing notices which may serve as a deterrent to opportunist intruders.
- Maintain a rigid ‘lock-up’ regime whenever the building is left empty
- Use one entrance rather than two especially if one entrance is staffed
- Outer fences/walls and gates need to be high enough and strong enough to keep out intruders
- Use good quality locks and padlocks
- Know who holds keys and chase any that are missing
- As part of training, remind all employees of the arson threat and ask them to report any suspicious behaviour
- Danger areas such as storage and warehouses should only be accessed by authorised members of staff
- The movement of visitors within the building should be controlled
The 6 End of Day Checks
- You or a named individual must be responsible for securing the building at the end of each day
- Check that doors and windows are secure
- No combustible materials are left lying around
- No unauthorised people on the premises
- Alarms switched on - outside lights are on
- Flammable liquids are locked away in a secure store
It is the owners responsibility for fire safety and in their best interest to ensure fire safety checks are carried out
REMEMBER 40% of businesses do not recover following a fire
Have you previously had small fire at your own or neighbouring premises? If so, make sure you inform the Police. Small fires are often a warning sign.
For more information please refer to the leaflet ‘Arson Reduction - Business Checklist’ in the downloads section.