One night in August, there were three night time arson attacks on cars in Northampton all occurring within three of each other. This was the second round of attacks this Summer which has raised some concerns in Northampton. The damage to the cars was extensive but fortunately the fires did not spread to any buildings.
When you are conducting fire risk assessments arson may seem to be the most difficult to guard against. Many fire hazards are fittings within your premises, tools used in business activities or specific activities themselves. Risk can be reduced or removed by process, procedure and training.
The purpose of the risk assessment is to identify ways to keep fire sources and potential fuel away from each other. In the case of arson the potential fire source is the arsonist – someone outside of your control. The fuel however is within your control and so should be the focus of your assessment. Fire risk assessments should be bespoke to your premises but here are some suggestions to guard against arson:
- The obvious one is to ensure your security is in good working order and do what you can to secure even outside areas with gates, locks, alarms and signage as visual deterrents.
- CCTV is more and more affordable these days but if you do not want to go the whole hog you can buy dummy cameras and signage to say the property is protected by CCTV.
- Think carefully about your rubbish storage – it should be locked away. If it is stored outside then do not have it stored up against the building where flames can spread to the premises.
- As in Northampton cars were the target so if vehicles are left on the premises overnight they should be locked away or parked away from the building in a secure area. Make sure they are locked.
- If your business is in a residential area it pays to be friendly with the neighbours who are one of your best chances of early intervention. Have they got emergency contact details for the business?
- If you store anything flammable or volatile on site it should not be anywhere where opportunist vandals or arsonists can stumble across it.
Arson comes from an unpredictable source but it does not mean you are defenceless against it. A fire risk assessment performed by a fully competent individual is your best line of defence against any type of fire hazard.