Fire Safety For Empty Buildings
If you are the current owner or proprietor of an empty building, e.g office blocks, factories or any other commercial premises, then you have a responsibility to procure and establish fire safety measures in that building.
Despite the fact that the building is empty, the same legal obligations apply for an empty building as an occupied one and that responsibility is with the present owner until another takes over.
As an owner of an empty commercial property, losing out on rent and having responsibility toward an unused building can be difficult but good safety and security measures ensure you are protecting surrounding structures, personal assets and making your building a more attractive utility for a prospective purchaser.
What are the fire safety risks in empty buildings?
Every year in the United Kingdom, thousands of unoccupied properties fall victim to fire damage. The reason vacant properties have different fire risks is because the lack of activity, checks and active presence on the site can allow problems to develop out of control.
Empty buildings are often hotspots for antisocial behaviour and can become shelters for vagrants. These individuals can bring in an excess of materials that could escalate a fire if one broke out and can cause careless damage to fire safety equipment.
The biggest concern from antisocial behaviour is arson. Arsonists often believe setting an empty building alight is better than burning down an occupied property. Although it is difficult to predict an arson attack, you can put measures in place to reduce the risk and if an arson attack does occur, and you have taken the appropriate fire safety measures, your insurance should support you.
Additionally, pests can be an issue in vacant buildings. With no one around, pests may move in and can go unnoticed. They can chew through wires and cause electrical fires.
How can fire safety risks be controlled?
To make sure an empty building is as safe for the duration of the unoccupancy, the specific risks above should be considered on top of all the most common fire risks of traditional/occupied buildings. As well as protecting your property, taking necessary fire safety measures will keep your insurance premiums down. Insurers like to see that you are proactively approaching fire safety.
It is a good idea to ensure that the fire alarm is remotely monitored, so that if you do have a fire, the monitoring call centre will quickly be in touch with you or the Fire Brigade.
To control fire risks in your property, you should ensure that inventory is moved out of the site at the shutdown stage. The building should also be secured to refuse unwanted entry. If the building is likely to remain empty for more than a few weeks, all waste, excess furniture and other items not forming part of the fittings should be removed. Floor coverings should be removed where possible as all of the mentioned items are likely to be combustible.
Fire safety risks can be controlled by using preventative fire safety measures and making sure all fire safety requirements are taken prior to the building being vacant.
How can DFP help?
Dorset Fire Protection has all of the services you require to support your fire safety approach. Our team can carry out any of the following to make sure your empty property is as low risk as possible. Fire prevention is the best approach to fire safety and the below services will help reduce the risk of a fire breaking out during the building unoccupancy.
Fire risk assessments
A risk assessment must be undertaken in compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. An assessment will indicate any high risk of intrusion, fire risks or potential for malicious damage. Building owners should take the outcome of the fire risk assessment and reactively improve the levels of security and protection.
Dorset Fire Protection can provide a clear prioritised action plan to assist implementation. We work closely with you and will tailor our solutions to the needs and constraints of your organisation.
Fire safety maintenance
To ensure your building has a reduced risk of fire going into unoccupancy, you should keep your fire safety equipment in the best shape possible. It is part of your fire safety responsibilities as an owner within an empty property to actively maintain systems and service and repair equipment. By investing in these systems you can protect your building and future income. Alternatively, failure to maintain fire safety equipment will damage you significantly if a fire does occur.
At Dorset Fire Protection, we believe 99% reliability is not good enough. As a building owner with a lot on their plate, you need to know that the equipment is going to function in the right way at the right time. We offer a range of maintenance packages to suit the different needs of our clients, all delivered by our qualified, enthusiastic engineers. All of our maintenance plans have unique cost management strategies to suit you.
Fire alarm maintenance
Fire alarm systems are essential for early warning that there is a fire in your building. A fully working fire alarm system can alert you to a fire before it takes hold and causes devastating damage. A monitored security or fire alarm also guarantees a professional and fast response during an emergency.
Whether you require a new system installed, a system upgrade, or simply a routine service and maintenance, Dorset Fire Protection can help you. Dependent on your building type, we can provide any fire alarm system that you require. Our experienced and qualified engineers are here to ensure that you comply with all relevant safety standards.
In an empty building, emergency lighting is key for a lot of different reasons. Firstly, if a fire does occur, emergency lighting can increase the chance of your building being saved. By having an emergency lighting system in place in an unoccupied building, it can help emergency services navigate their way around the property.
Secondly, an emergency lighting system sends a clear signal to prospective tenants and owners that you care about the property.
Lastly, lighting with motion sensors could also deter trespassers or squatters from entering your property and potentially causing a fire risk.
At Dorset Fire Protection, we provide the full installation and maintenance package.
Dorset Fire Protection is here, and our team can help. Our team is dedicated to the service they provide and are there to support you. Using our years of experience, we can formulate solutions, inspire trust, remove stress and disruption, and exceed expectations.
Don’t leave fire safety to chance when it comes to your unoccupied building, or any building, contact Dorset Fire Protection today to get the entire fire safety package from one reliable source. Contact us today on 0330 7000 555 or email [email protected]