In any business premises, the owner/occupier and manager have a legal responsibility for fire safety.
Ask yourself this – how easily could a fire be started?
Most of the arson fires affecting shops are lit outside. The culprits are often vandals with little more motivation than to cause trouble. They light fires with anything readily to hand – waste, packaging, rubbish in open skips and plastic trays. How easily could it happen?
Deal with the waste and rubbish threat
- No packaging, waste or rubbish should be left to accumulate anywhere on the premises or immediately outside.
- Safe storage means metal bins with closed lids; ideally these bins would be locked away in their own compartment.
- Arrange regular/frequent collection of refuse/waste by a local authority or contractor.
- Keep external areas clear and tidy so intruders are visible and there is less to interest opportunists.
- Plan for busy periods when you have more stock or waste materials.
- Entrances and exits should remain clear at all times.
Make the premises as arson proof as possible
- Have their previously been small fires in the premises? Have you heard of fires occurring locally? If so, tell the Police and be particularly vigilant. Small fires sometimes serve as a warning sign of worse to come.
- Keep an eye on what is going on. It pays in larger establishments to have a security guard on duty at main entrances. In smaller businesses, you and your staff should exercise vigilance.
- Make perimeters secure and consider installing security lighting and CCTV.
- As part of staff training, remind all employees of the arson threat and advise them to report suspicious behaviour by customers (or staff!).
- 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 of the building (this should contain any fires from lighted rags or paper).
- Keep a list of people holding keys to the premises and chase any that are missing.
- Special danger areas are storages and warehousing. There should be a rule that access is only available to authorised members of staff.
- Is there a system – or should there be – for leaving lights on at night?
For further guidance on fire safety of your premises, contact your local fire station.
If you have any information about a suspicious fire, call Crimestoppers Arson Alert. The Arson Alert number is 0800 555 111 – calls are free and callers do not have to give their name.