Another blaze at an industrial premises. You can’t help thinking that it’s someone’s business, employer, supplier, retailer, or custodian of property. You hope everyone on the premises and attending the fire is safe, but you begin to wonder what could have been the cause of such devastation and misery.

Arson remains a large cause of large fire losses in commercial premises. It’s hard to get inside the head of those willing to commit this crime but it continues to happen, year on year without fail.

Potential reasons why someone might resort to arson: 

  • Difficulties with their employer
  • Difficulties with their mental health
  • Difficulties with their business or finances
  • Difficulties in their relationships with others

We are going through times where anecdotally; more and more people are reporting finding aspects of life more difficult. This doesn’t necessarily mean we will see an increase in arson, but it would certainly be prudent for any business owner to review their own risks right now.

So, what does this actually mean? Well, a good place to start is to consider whether arson risks have been adequately covered within the Fire Risk Assessment that has been prepared for the premises.

Has the fire risk assessment been considered?

Are there areas of the premises which may have increased susceptibility to arson?  Are there sections of the premises that are vulnerable, such as poorly lit and out-of-sight areas? Vacant buildings can often be targeted.

Is there a history of vandalism, malicious attacks, or crime in the area?

Have easily used sources of fuel for any arsonist been identified such as:

Combustible materials including waste, flammable liquids, gases, etc.

Elements of the building structure that could assist the spread of fire or even be used to set the fire e.g., damaged composite cladding panels with an exposed combustible core.

Are end of day inspections of the building ensuring these easy targets for arsonists are dealt with and made safe before the property is left unoccupied?

Has the fire risk assessment considered the security measures necessary to deter an arsonist? This point needs careful thought as arsonists can be intruders, but also can be employees or invited visitors or contractors. This assessment of security needs should consider each of these scenarios and confirm that adequate security arrangements are in place.

The emphasis needs to be on preventing arson and a good risk assessment will explore possible arson scenarios and seek to remove or control hazards wherever possible.

Should an arsonist be successful then as with all fires, you’d want early detection and warning of any building occupants and people who can summon the Fire and Rescue Service.

Fire protection systems such as sprinklers make it hard for the arsonist to inflict damage to the property. There are many good reasons to install such systems but deterring and defeating the intentions of an arsonist has to be one of the better ones.

Lastly, your employees have a vested interest in keeping any potential arsonist at bay. Providing staff awareness training, informing individuals about the threat of arson and how to report any concerns or suspicions can be what makes a difference. Someone noticing and reporting something that prompts action that deters an arsonist.

So now is a good time to review your fire risk assessment specifically against the threat of arson.

We are here to help

If you are concerned about how this affects you and your business and would like support in assessing your needs, we are here to help. Please do get in touch for confidential advice and guidance.

This article was adapted from a blog written by Aviva’ Simon Cook which can be found here.