Businesses urged to take precautions to prevent false alarms and arson during UK Business Safety Week 2017

Cornwall businesses are being urged to take precautions to prevent arson and false alarms as part of UK Business Safety Week this week (11-17 September).

The week, which aims to reduce fire incidents in the workplace, provides an opportunity for local businesses to think about fire safety and focus on prevention in areas which are often overlooked.

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Nationally, there are nearly 3,000 arson attacks on businesses each year, prompting the reminder for businesses to take measures to reduce the threat of arson, which is still a major factor in commercial fires.

Terry Nottle, Station Manager for Business Support, said: “An arson attack can be devastating, but it would probably surprise people to know that most arson attacks aren’t planned, they are opportunistic. Simple steps to reduce the build-up of combustibles and waste near buildings can reduce the likelihood of an arson attack. If you haven’t done a recent workplace fire risk assessment, now is the time.” 

False alarms are another area businesses are being asked to think about. Across the UK there are nearly 250,000 false alarms a year and according to the Fire Industry Association, this costs business and fire and rescue services £1 billion.

“Every false alarm causes disruption and repeated false alarms are a sign you need to review your procedures, or could be a sign of unmaintained equipment,” said Terry. “This can affect the confidence your customers and staff have in you, as well as impact on productivity and  the general routine of your organisation, not to mention putting lives at risk.

“Ensuring an alarm system is appropriate for your premises can quickly reduce false activations. Our message this week is simple – have you done everything you can to protect your business?”

Arson prevention advice for shops and stores

  • Limit as far as possible the number of entrances in use (but do not block fire exits!)
  • Keep a watch on what is going on. Larger establishments might have a security guard on duty at main entrances, while in smaller businesses you and your staff should practice vigilance.
  • As part of staff training, remind all employees of arson threats and ask them to report any suspicious behaviour.
  • Ensure that doors and windows are in good repair and that locks are working.
  • Gaps under doors to the street should be as narrow as possible - this will prevent items such as lighted paper being pushed under them.
  • If there is a letterbox, it should have a metal container fitted on the inside (to contain any fires from lighted rags or paper).
  • Keep a list of people holding keys to the premises, and chase any that are missing.
  • Identify possible entry routes for intruders (ie. via yards, up drainpipes or even flat roofs) and consider what could be done to prevent access.
  • Special danger areas are storages and warehousing, which should only be accessible to authorised members of staff.
  • Is there a system for leaving lights on at night?
  • For further information on reducing arson risks, please visit our arson prevention webpages

Reducing false alarms

  • The Fire and Rescue Service will work with you to reduce false alarms at your premises and in some cases we may take enforcement action
  • False alarms can be caused by cooking, welding, steam, dust and aerosols, as well as poor maintenance and cleaning or poor design and installation

For further information on how to reduce false alarms please visit our false alarms webpage.

Story posted 13 September 2017