Stats Show Arson Risk to Business
Vulcan Fire Training Co Ltd
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The Department for Communities and Local Government have reported that from 2011 to 2012, 32,500 of the 104,900 primary fires they attended were deliberately caused, of which around 7,300 were non-residential buildings.
These broke down as follows:
Buildings providing recreational and cultural services - 40%
Schools - 32%
Agricultural premises - 31%
Retail distribution centres - 25%
Hospitals and healthcare practices - 22%
Preschool, higher education, and further education premises - 21%
Pubs and catering facilities - 17%
Industrial premises - 15%
Prior to reading these shocking stats you may well have thought the risk of arson on your premises was limited. Here at Vulcan we are all too aware of potential threats such as these, and ensure that all areas are covered as part of our Fire Manager training to help you reduce the risks.
Here our managing director Graham Holloway looks at how to analyse the threat of arson and how to protect yourselves against it.
Analysis of the Threat of Arson
Management should analyse, and remain aware of, the extent of the threat of arson to their company. This will vary from one organisation to another, and depend on factors such as:
(a) The nature of the organisation. Large, faceless, establishment-type organisations may be seen as a more legitimate target than a small local family business. Schools are a particular target for vandals, who may set fire to the premises.
(b) The activities of the organisation. Potential target organisations are, for example, those associated with experiments on animals or trading in animal products, those with financial interests in, or major trading relations with, certain foreign countries whose policies are strongly opposed by radical pressure groups, etc and those in some areas of the defence industry. Also, one can never discount arson as a means of industrial sabotage.
(c) The "softness" of the target. Certain types of premises are inherently more vulnerable than others. The bus operating industry, for example, periodically suffers a major loss, invariably due to ignition of seats within parked vehicles; bus garages are often difficult to secure because there is a need for regular access for vehicles until late at night, and it is common for large numbers of vehicles to be parked in such close proximity that fire can spread readily from one vehicle to another.
(d) Labour relations. An organisation with good industrial relations is likely, by definition, to have fewer disgruntled employees.
(e) Geographical location. Premises in inner city areas are often at greater risk.
Protection Measures Against Arson
Protection against arson involves measures that afford a high degree of security. While it is commonly believed that fire safety and security directly conflict, because of the possible detrimental effects of security measures on means of escape, good security is itself a fire prevention measure. Common security measures that are relevant to prevention of arson include the following:
(a) Secure boundaries to prevent intruders. In the case of a site, this involves the provision and maintenance of fences of adequate height and physical strength. For buildings, there is a need for all doors to be capable of being securely locked. This includes fire exits, for which suitable exit devices, such as panic bars, can be provided on the inside of the door. Security of windows should also be addressed.
(b) Access control, to ensure that only authorised personnel enter the premises, that they can only do so via supervised entry points and that they are properly identifiable. High risk areas within any site should be the subject of additional control.
(c) Security lighting, particularly in the case of open yards or large site should with open spaces between the perimeter fence and the building on site.
(d) Intruder alarms, to ensure that occupants may be alerted and the police summoned (usually by a remote monitoring centre) if unauthorized access to the premises is gained. For a large site or building, CCTV monitoring might also be appropriate.
(e) Periodic patrols, either by on‑site security personnel or by a third party guarding company.
(f) Vigilance by staff, who should be aware of the need for security measures and be encouraged to challenge persons whom they consider may be unauthorised.
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