The SBRC is a non-profit organisation which exists to support and help protect Scottish businesses. Our unique connection to Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Government gives us exclusive access to the latest information on legislation, criminal trends and threats, allowing us to provide the very best advice to safeguard staff, customers and businesses.
Best Bar None is a national accreditation and award scheme for licensed premises. Participants are provided with support and advice to improve the safety of their staff, premises and customers and to adopt high management standards.
Update risk assessments Your current Fire Safety Risk Assessment (FSRA) may not reflect the current situation within your premises during periods of temporary closure. It should be reviewed and updated to take into account any changes or impact upon risk a closure could result in. You should also give consideration to how reduced maintenance and testing provision could impact upon the fire risk within the premises.
You should also contact your insurance provider to advise them of the building being unoccupied.
Inspect weekly Your premises should be, where possible, inspected on a weekly basis provided this is in accordance with the current government guidance on travel. If restrictions on travel mean this is not possible, inspection should be reinstated as soon as possible once restrictions are lifted. You may wish to issue any staff travelling to inspect the premises an official letter or note on company headed paper which has contact details and authorises them to do so, should they be challenged by anyone such as a police or security officer.
During inspection if any damage to the building infrastructure is noted, it should be repaired as soon as practicable. Pay particular attention to access doors, windows and gates, electrical equipment, security devices/lighting, intruder alarms, fire-detection systems and fire-suppression systems.
Turn off and unplug electrical equipment At times when your premises are unoccupied you should switch off and unplug electrical equipment, removing plugs from sockets. Isolate any areas of the building at the main electrical switch board if possible. Only leave critical electrical equipment required to be left on to enable the infrastructure to be maintained within the building and electrical devices required to be powered on to support the business or any staff working remotely.
Close all internal fire and smoke-control doors Close internal fire and smoke-control doors. In the event of a fire any doors which are left open could substantially increase the potential for heat and smoke spread to other areas of the building. Ensure any smoke-control systems and fire dampers operate correctly.
Protect the premises against wilful fire raising and vandalism All external access points such as doors and windows and gates should be locked and secured out of hours. Larger windows should be shuttered or boarded up if possible.
Intruders may look for ways to scale a building via a convenient flat roof. They may also use items at ground level which can be moved around to utilise as climbing platforms which afford access onto roofs. An example of this would be industrial waste bins – consider chaining these to an immovable object, or if you have more than one, chain them together.
Consider securing any items which could be used as levers to force entry through doors, windows or skylights. Such items should ideally be held in a secure area.
More in depth guidance and advice on securing your premises against wilful fire raising and criminality can be found on the SBRC website.
Ensure AFD and AFSS are operational Ensure that any Automatic Fire Detection Systems (AFD) and Automatic Fire Suppression Systems (AFSS) are active and operational. Check your indicator panels to ensure there are no faults showing. If there are any faults present during inspection, have these rectified as soon as possible. AFD and AFSS are your premises’ first line of defence against fire, even more so when the building is unoccupied and there are no staff present to notice a fire-alarm activation or a fire occurring. As such they are critical to your premises’ fire-risk reduction at times when it is unoccupied.
Ensure any ARC link is operational If your AFD system is linked to an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), which monitors for fire alarm activations within the premises, ensure the link is fully operational. Contact your ARC to ensure they are aware that your premises are temporarily unoccupied. Ensure that anyone carrying out a weekly inspection of the premises is aware of any ARC connected to the system so that in the event of them testing the fire alarm, they can contact the ARC beforehand and have the system taken temporarily offline for test, then re-contact the ARC to inform them the test is complete. This will help guard against Unwanted Fire Alarm Signals (UFAS) being transmitted to the fire service, which may result in the unneeded operational attendance of fire crews during this current time, tying up resources when crews may be required at a genuine emergency elsewhere.
For information on reducing UFAS see the guidance on the SFRS and NFCC – National Fire Chiefs Council website.
Ensure premises key holders are available Ensure that appointed key holders are available for the premises should they be required to attend in the event of a fire-alarm activation or a fire occurring within the premises. Ensure these key holders are aware of the layout of the premises including where to isolate main services such as gas, electricity and water, as well as being familiar with the AFD system itself. Ensure your ARC has current and up-to-date contact details for these key holders.
Clear any mail from letterboxes or behind doors Letter boxes are a commonly used access point for wilful fire raising. Consider arranging with the Post Office to have mail redirected to premises which will be occupied. If this is not possible then consider fitting an external letter box or a fireproof letterbox/bag to prevent any lit combustibles being pushed through to the interior of the building.
External combustibles moved away from the building Many instances of wilful fire raising occur where combustible materials are readily available in the vicinity including refuse and packaging or waste stored inappropriately.
Combustible materials should be stored in a closed metal container if possible. This container should be located away from the building in such a position that it will not contribute to fire spread to adjacent buildings or outbuildings – at least 8m away is a good rule of thumb. Ensure any spirit stores where alcohol is stocked are suitably secure and if possible consider removing any stock and storing off site. It is also recommended to affix notices in prominent locations stating that ‘No alcohol is stored on these premises and all cash has been removed’ to discourage opportunist theft.
Chaining multiple large bins together also limits the potential for intruders to move them closer to buildings.
Larger combustibles such as wooden pallets should be stored in a secure area away from the building but not so close to the perimeter fence that an intruder could set fire to them through the fence itself.
Prevent water damage/flooding During the period of temporary closure, isolate water supplies at the mains. If it is possible, drain down any water systems within the premises. It may not be possible to do this and if this is the case within your premises, a minimum temperature of 7⁰C (45⁰F) should be maintained throughout if possible.
For further guidance and advice on fire-risk mitigation for your premises, contact your local fire and rescue service or visit the National Fire Chiefs Council and the Scottish Business Resilience Centre websites.