Steve Walker of IHN Insurance Brokers enlightened us with his view to fire safety and security precautions and offered some hints and tips about how to avoid any such fire outbreaks.
As Insurance Brokers to your sector, we are aware that one of the main risks associated with your industry is fire. It is also a great source of concern to insurers.
There are various areas to consider so we have outlined some useful hints and tips below which we hope will be of help to you.
Due to the amount of scrap vehicles, petrol, oils and lubricants found on dismantlers’ premises, your business may be a very tempting target for an arsonist and the amount of damage they could cause is vast. Arson is also accountable for a large proportion of fires within commercial premises that don’t even have this added vulnerability.
A business that doesn’t take sufficient fire safety and security precautions becomes a tempting target for arsonists and vandals, regardless of reputation. They will most likely strike while the premises are unattended so specific defences need to be arranged for evenings, holidays and other closure periods.
It is vital that security measures do not compromise fire safety arrangements so, before making any changes, review your fire safety risk assessment.
Hints and tips
- Avoid leaving rubbish and other combustible goods outside your buildings, particularly when unattended. Fires started close to buildings or vehicles can quickly spread. Tyres and pallets are the main culprits.
- Mobile waste bins should be secured at least six metres away from any buildings or vehicles. If this is not possible, use bins with lockable lids and lock them whenever your premises are unattended or whenever not in use.
- Investing in good security measures will decrease the likelihood of your premises being targeted by arsonists. Perimeter security, CCTV and alarms are a good place to start.
Fires Caused by Electrical Installations
The main aspect insurers are looking for in this respect is that your business complies with the Electricity at work Regulations. This includes PAT testing and 5 yearly Fixed Wiring Certification.
You must be aware, and make employees aware, of the initial warning signs of a potential problem in any electrical installations. These could include such signs as:
- hot plugs, sockets or cables
- fuses that blow or circuit breakers which trip for no obvious reason
- circuit breakers that trip because an excessive electric load is being imposed on them
- lights that flicker or go out as soon as they are turned on
- brown scorch marks on sockets, plugs and fuse boxes
- damaged, frayed, or loose cables
- broken electrical fittings
- use of very old cabling, particularly fabric, lead or rubber covered types
- unprotected cabling in lofts, cellars and similar hidden spaces where it may be damaged by vermin
- Do not allow storage within cupboards containing electrical equipment or against fuse boxes and similar
Forklift Truck Battery Charging
The recharging of electric lift truck batteries has a number of significant hazards which can, if not suitably controlled, increase the risk of fire, explosion, injury or even death. In many premises, battery charging takes place at night whilst the building is unattended and faults in charging equipment often lead to fires.
What aspects do I need to consider?
- Consider whether battery charging is being undertaken in the safest location. If not, could a safer place be found?
- If you carry out charging in a number of locations, could this activity be consolidated into one safer area better able to contain a fire and reduce the risk of an explosion?
- Are chargers being maintained in good condition?
- Often chargers are damaged by lift trucks. Allowing damaged chargers to be used will increase the risk or fire, injury or death and leave you open to possible prosecution.
- Protect chargers (particularly floor standing units) from vehicle impact. Do not stand chargers on combustible surfaces, particularly wooden pallets. Make sure that battery charging areas are not used for storage and are kept clear of combustibles and unnecessary unsuitable items of electrical equipment and ignition sources. Unless chargers are protected by guard rails, provide floor markings at a radius of at least two metres around them to reinforce the need to keep them clear of goods. Do not permit storage on chargers.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of fire risks and, if you would like further information or advice, please contact Steve Walker of IHN Insurance Brokers on 01384 375555 or email Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article first appeared in the VRA magazine.
For further guidance regarding FPP visit www.gov.uk