An arson attack took place in Daventry in the middle of March, resulting in a massive warehouse fire. There was short term disruption with road closures on the industrial estate where the warehouse was based, and nearby businesses and residents having to close doors and windows as a precaution. The warehouse and what has now been estimated to be around £20 million of stock has been destroyed. Thankfully there were no injuries but it illustrates the devastation a single act of arson can cause. Some criminals set out with the intent to commit an act of arson; others will light a fire in an attempt to cover the tracks of another crime they’ve committed. Deliberately-lit fires can take hold very quickly as they usually have multiple ignition points and intensify rapidly as criminals often use accelerants. Given that arson attacks tend to take place at a time when the fire’s unlikely to be discovered quickly, the potential for widespread damage is significant. It’s essential that when reviewing the overall fire risks businesses factor in what they can do to reduce the risk of arson - here are some points you might want to think about as part of that process. Install alarm and CCTV systems and consider having them monitored The presence of any kind of alarm and CCTV system is likely to make a criminal think twice before carrying out any kind of crime including arson. As well as acting as a deterrent and source of information if a criminal investigation was needed, CCTV footage can help you identify anything of concern such as someone showing an unusual level of interest in your site.  By having the opportunity to spot this and report concerns to the police, you’re in a better position to stop a crime such as an arson attack taking place. Given that most arson attacks take place when a building is unoccupied, it’s sensible to consider having monitored systems installed; setting them up can be done very cost effectively and doesn’t necessarily require replacement of existing systems or complex installations. If something of concern is identified at any time of day or night via your systems, a signal goes to a monitoring station to inform them there’s potentially an issue at your premises. At that point, you’re contacted so the monitoring centre can quickly initiate appropriate action including calling out the emergency response services if necessary. Even if they can’t get hold of you, the centre will make their own decision about the best course of action to take based on the information they’ve received to bring the situation under control. Check perimeters and external storage arrangements If you have a perimeter boundary like a wall or fence, make sure it’s doing the job of both obstacle and deterrent; is it high enough, strong enough, in good condition and well-secured?  Store materials and waste away from the boundary to prevent people getting access to them from outside the perimeter but you must also keep them at least 10 metres away from buildings; if they’re ignited, the fire can quickly spread to the building itself. If you don’t have the space to do that, store anything that needs to be kept outside in non-combustible lockable containers and make sure waste is regularly removed so you don’t get a build-up of rubbish. Improve visibility around your premises Like all criminals, arsonists don’t want to be seen so well-lit premises with few places for hiding can reduce the chances of them being targeted. Cut back any overgrown areas; dense vegetation can be used as fuel for a fire as well as offer hiding places for an arsonist. Overhanging trees can potentially provide access to the higher levels of your building so check any areas that could be at risk and prune back trees if necessary. Don’t overlook the simple precautions The most obvious precaution of all but one that can still sometimes be overlooked is remembering to lock up your premises carefully; it’s very easy to miss a window that’s been left open. Other simple precautions like providing locked letter boxes outside your premises or fitting a metal container inside the letter slot can reduce the risk of an arsonist pushing burning materials through into your workplace. If you’d like further advice about safeguarding your business from the risk of arson, please contact us. We can provide you with further guidance about monitoring systems including CCTV and fire alarm systems and explain all the benefits they offer as well as come to your premises to carry out a free site survey.