The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention – Part 94

April 19, 2021 1:34 pm

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 93, LWF discussed arson in relation to the guidance given in BS 8220-3. In part 94, we continue to discuss arson and how effective fire safety management can prevent its occurrence.

Flammable liquids must be stored securely on all premises, particularly as they are most useful to arsonists as accelerants. Effective management of procedures relating to flammable substances can help to avoid misuse or accident and only sufficient quantities for the working period should be allowed in the workplace at any time. Any excess should be replaced in the secure storage.

While the majority of arsonists can be assumed to be people unknown, it is also possible for employees, outside contractors or other persons who have a genuine purpose on the premises to become arsonists. It is obviously more difficult to control the threat of arson from those people with a legitimate reason to be on the premises, but the thorough vetting of potential employees and following up of all references should help to ensure there is no history of significance. In addition, the ability of an employee to access the building should be revoked as soon as they leave the company. Where an organisation uses access codes, these should be changed regularly in any case.

Management of an organisation should analyse and remain aware of the level of arson threat to the company. Analysis will depend on various factors:

  • The type of organisation. Where an organisation is large and ‘faceless’ or represents a part of the establishment, it may be easier for an arsonist to perceive it as a legitimate target. Schools are a common target for vandals and arsonists. Many school arson fires are started at night and so are in the main considered a property protection issue, however, increasingly, fires are being started by arsonists at schools during opening hours and the threat to life is considerable.
  • The activities of the organisation. Arsonists can be drawn to organisations who appear to stand in opposition to personal or political beliefs. Organisations who experiment using animals or trade in animal products are a common target, along with those businesses who have financial interests in or trade with countries whose policies are strongly opposed. The defence industry is another common target, and those companies who supply arms to other countries. Industrial sabotage is another potential reason for arson.

In part 95 of this series, LWF will continue to look at the indicators for arson a business or organisation should look for in their analysis. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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