There are 2,213 arson attacks each week in the UK, with an average of two fatalities and 53 injuries.
As a result of those attacks, 360 businesses or public buildings experience damage or are fully destroyed. If you take into account that after a serious fire 43% of businesses close, and a further 29% close within three years, ignoring the threat of arsonists puts you and your business in serious jeopardy.
Deliberately started fires pose more danger because they generally develop faster than accidental ones, partly because arsonists will often use accelerants such as petrol, and sometimes attempt to block open fire doors to ensure rapid spread.
Of all the fire risk reduction measures that can be carried out, the highest benefit may come from actions taken to reduce arson.
The vast majority of attacks are caused by the opportunist arsonist. Whilst it is hard to predict attacks, you can make yourself less of a target. By carrying out a suitable risk assessment you should be able to outline the weak points in your property.
Being aware of recent small fires in the area is a good indicator as to whether you are at risk.
If graffiti or other forms of vandalism are not cleaned up promptly, it could suggest that your location is at a greater threat. A section of your staff training should also cover arson; staff need to be aware of the dangers and report anything suspicious immediately.
In many arson attacks, everything a vandal needs to start a fire has been left within close proximity. Rubbish bins should be kept clear of buildings, preferably within a secure compound. You should ensure that all combustible waste is regularly removed and kept secured in a safe area whilst awaiting disposal.
You should also make sure that the outside of the premises is well lit, and if possible secure the perimeter. Keep in mind that one of the best fire detectors is you!
You should thoroughly inspect your buildings windows and doors to make sure that there are no easy ways to gain access, and it is suggested that metal letterboxes are fitted on the inside of letter flaps to contain anything that may be pushed through.
Although most cases of arson are the result of an opportunist attack, there is still the possibility of a vindictive attack. These attacks may come from disgruntled customers, or ex members of staff with a grudge to bear against your business.
You should make sure you know the locations of any keys to your property, and if a key pad entry is in use the numbers should be changed whenever a member of staff leaves the business.
An arson attack may vary in severity, from a simple outdoor bin fire to more vicious cases of breaking and entering, wedging doors, disabling alarms and starting a fire in an area that is unlikely to be detected with ease. Most attacks also occur at night when you are most vulnerable.
This information highlights the importance of a suitable risk assessment. Any fire fighting equipment should be in full working order, staff must be trained competently in their use, and fire alarm systems should be giving an early warning.
Whilst you cannot completely cover yourself from the threat of arson, keeping track of your fire risk assessment throughout the year in a log book will allow you to strengthen your protection from the threat. Register for our FREE 68 page Fire Safety Log Book.