We’ve been loving the recent heatwave, but it got us thinking.
Summer is the time of the year when businesses need to be most aware of the risks from fire. When the temperature soars, trees and bracken become so dry that any fire which breaks out can do so quickly.
During the summer months, there is an increased risk from:
Equipment overheating – High temperatures outside make it harder to control the temperature inside your premises. So, there is a risk of equipment such as computer, printers, manufacturing machinery, mobile phone chargers, and office kitchen equipment overheating and starting a fire. With air conditioning units working overtime, they could also be at risk. Sockets may also get overloaded with fans. A carelessly discarded cigarette outside could also start a fire in very dry refuse or recycling.
How can you avoid this? Get your equipment PAT tested and ensure it is safe for use. Risk assess your office or workplace when the temperature rises and ensure equipment is switched off at night, not left near papers or other recycling, and that sockets aren’t overloaded. Issue your staff with guidelines to help them avoid a blaze. Does your building have sprinklers and other fire suppressant measures? It’s worth everyone knowing where they are and how they work.
Wildfires – There have been several instances of major fires starting in bracken or brush on mountainsides and engulfing homes and businesses because they spread. This is a major worry for businesses in the countryside, in particular.
How can you avoid your business falling foul of them? Take some time to assess the risks to your building from nearby woods or scrub land. Could you create a natural fire ‘break’ near your premises by clearing a little of the scrub? Do you have sprinklers, smoke alarms, and CCTV which can monitor the spread of any nearby fire? It’s worth getting a plan to protect your building in place, and a contingency plan for how you could operate if the worst happens.
Arson attacks – Sadly, the school summer holidays tend to see a spike in arson attacks. So, it’s important that your business does all it can to avoid becoming a summer arson statistic.
How can you avoid them? Make your premises a hard target for arsonists. Secure it with fencing, security guards, and monitored CCTV systems. Also ensure your fire alarms and fire suppressant systems are checked and working to their optimum efficiency. Remove flammable material from outside your building – for example, piles of wood, paper, or tyres which tend to attract arsonists, and which can lead to your building catching fire.
Freak fires – The weather can lead to freak fires such as the canal and river boat business in Surrey in 2014 which said strong summer winds before a thunder storm whipped up embers from a fire in a cage and spread to nearby fiberglass and propane cylinders and damaged the yard. There have been instances of glass left on a windowsill causing a fire in strong sunlight, thanks to the so-called ‘magnifying glass effect’.
How can you avoid them? Ensure all glass surfaces are covered or out of the reach of sunlight and monitor the weather conditions if you’re burning something outside. If in doubt, don’t light your fire.
Need advice on managing your fire risk? Our Severn Bay team of risk assessors is here to guide you. We’ll also help you get the right insurance products to ensure you’re protected. For more information please contact us on 029 2047 0375.