Arson has been a nuisance to many people for many years. The burden of economic loss to people, local authorities, businesses and communities are considerable, and the demands on Fire and Rescue services are gruelling – often diverting them from attending other life-threatening incidents.
Arson-related crime fell by 23% from April to June 2020 (to 108,604 offences). Since the country was on lockdown for that time, it was a concern that arson could become a way of expressing pandemic angst and, despite such a lower statistic, there were still many fire-related crimes happening across the country. Over 30 acts of arson to wireless cell towers occurred during that time, fuelled by the fear of an internet conspiracy about 5G technology.
Prevention is better than cure
As the most common cause of fires in commercial buildings, the effects of arson can have a horrifying impact on any business. The aftermath of such a crime can make or break any business, whether it be big or small. So, taking small steps to ensure that the possibility of arson is kept at bay will help prevent the risk.
Arson attacks can either be targeted or a completely random event – you can’t determine when these criminal happenings will occur, but it’s good to have a plan of action in place. While the obvious precautions, such as CCTV or 24-hour security guards will help, a lot of arsonists will scope out a building for weeks or even months beforehand to determine whether it will be an easy target.
Actions you can take to prevent arson
Install CCTV or an intruder alarm system: A fire alarm is necessary for any building, but they will only notify you once the fire has already started. An intruder alarm detects when someone unauthorised has entered the building, which will catch them out before the fire is even attempted. Once a CCTV system is spotted by a potential intruder, it may warn them off from snooping any further. If they continue, however, the CCTV camera will most likely capture their identities for later prosecution.
Remove any accessible flammable materials: Flammable materials such as oils, fuels, wood or even gas bottles should be locked away or disposed of to prevent arsonists from having more opportunity to start a fire. Even emptying bins regularly and, where possible, ensuring they are locked away in a bin store, will help to keep your property safer.
Keep fire doors regularly serviced, clear of obstructions and keep them closed: Your fire doors must have regular maintenance, ideally every six months, to make sure that they are fully equipped to contain a fire. Fire doors are used to keep a fire contained for 30-60 minutes – with some options offering up to four hours of protection – which is why it is vital to keep them closed so that they can do their job effectively. Keep fire doors clear of any mess or obstructions to prevent further spread.
Install fire suppression systems and fire curtains: Sprinklers, gas suppression systems and fire curtains can help prevent the spread of a fire that has been started. Installing a fire suppression system will put your mind at ease and keep fires under control in time for the fire service to get to you.
Provide fire safety training for staff members: Arson attacks can happen at any time and often they arise in broad daylight when staff members are still working in the building. Having a clear evacuation plan in place is essential for any premises. Assigning fire wardens and training them on how to respond in the event of a fire will help to keep buildings safe. Fire wardens should know how to use fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and have additional responsibilities, such as ensuring fire doors are shut and keeping areas clear of obstructions. While basic fire safety training won’t prevent an attack, it should aid in deterring an arsonist from causing too much damage.
Conduct a fire risk assessment: As the owner of a building or business, you need to be aware of any risks that the property may face in regards to health and safety. An insurance company will provide guidelines that need to be met, based on any potential risks your premises may pose, and creating a fire risk assessment to follow will make everyone in the building aware of what to change or look out for.
Are all of your systems up-to-date?: It’s crucial that you keep all fire, security, CCTV and alarm systems up-to-date and fully serviced to avoid faults. Servicing these systems is just as important as installing them. Something as simple as forgetting to replace batteries in a smoke alarm can have huge consequences.
Stay up-to-date about arson attacks in the area: Your local fire department will be able to provide you with key information about any recent or previous arson attacks. It’s good to stay updated with any incidents to be aware of the possibility that another may occur.
How Fire Curtains help prevent arson
Fire curtains prevent the spread of fire by blocking its path. Installing fire curtains works as a type of fire protection, and can respond to the presence of fire almost immediately. Fire curtains are great to use alongside other fire protection solutions, such as sprinkler systems, smoke curtains and fire alarms.
Coopers Fire is a leading name in fire protection around the world. Get in touch today to find out which fire curtains are best for your building and help prevent arson.