Preventing Arson

By : Business Owner
Published 1st October 2018 |
Read latest comment - 29th November 2018

Preventing Arson

Arsonists start 3,000 fires every week in Britain, and the crime is on the increase.

Arson is one of the great hidden plagues of our time and represents 47 per cent of all fires attended by the Fire and Rescue Services in England. It is now the single largest cause of fires in Britain with more than 3,500 every single week – 20 schools, 260 homes, 360 businesses and it costs about £2.2 billion a year. Last year, according to figures from the insurance giant AXA, arsons carried out against businesses soared by 23 per cent.

The average commercial fire claim was £25,544, a 125.4 per cent increase since 2004

What is arson? 

Arson is the act of deliberately setting fire to property, including buildings and vehicles.  Arson is very serious; however there are practical common sense steps which can be taken to reduce incident in the workplace.
Train your staff to be observant and watchful at all times. Staff should have the confidence to challenge strangers who are not wearing a visitors/identification badge.
Windows and doors should be maintained in good repair with locks that function correctly.
Keep gaps under doors to a minimum to minimise the possibility of burning materials being introduced into the building.
Limit the number of entrances and exits in use (do not locks fire exits).  Ensure you have robust controls in place, particularly where there is greater risk of fire, to stop access to the premises from non-employees.
Keep the areas that are adjacent to doors inside your property as clear from combustible materials as possible.
Install metal boxes on the inside of letterboxes to prevent burning materials being introduced into the building through the letterbox. Ensure that waste is managed. 
Store waste away from the building and if necessary, where waste is significant, then arrange for extra collections.
Secure your perimeters to prevent easy access to your site. Leave lights on a night whether permanent, or on timers/sensors. Gives an indication that the property is occupied.Follow the principle "don't make it easy."


Fire safety is about the protection of life and property.  Management of fire safety in the workplace should be a priority for all but particularly a priority for management.  Developing robust fire and safety policy and procedures, having regular checks, a well trained workforce, being alert to the potential for fire at all times and constant observation, are all key to your success.

History tells us that the worst incidences of fire have usually involved a failing of one of these management priorities.  Fires in the workplace can be life changing on an individual, a business and the community; they are news worthy and can lead to enforcement action and prosecution.

Hope you find this article of interest.  Please let me know by commenting on the article what other subjects you would like to hear about.


Thanks Rob. That was really interesting although I work from home some of it is still relevant. Can I ask whether you think people should own fire extinguishers at home? My husband thinks I'm overreacting but we had a small fire in the kitchen and it would have been really useful in my opinion. And I will tell you one thing, the smoke was very quickly unbearable even from a tiny fire inside, you can see how people are overcome so quickly. 


Hi Rebecca,

Sorry to hear you had a fire in your home.  It happened to me when I was an 11 year old with the fire becoming a major incident within minutes and the fire brigade having to attend to put out the fire, a very sobering and frightening moment in my early life.

I will write an article about the steps you can take to reduce the risk of fire in the home.  However, for now, I will answer your question by saying, there is no single type of extinguisher which is totally effective on every kind of fire. So before buying a fire extinguisher, it is vital to look carefully at what type of fire it has to be used on.

A fire extinguishers rating is the measure of its fire fighting capability, and for domestic purposes, an ABC-rated extinguisher is recommended because it can be used on most types of fire common to the home or vehicle. You can buy a multi-purpose 2 kg ABC dry powder fire extinguisher designed for use on small domestic fires before they get out of control and without taking unnecessary risks.

Fire Ratings; A = wood, paper, textiles B = Petrol, oils and paints C = flammable gases.

Care must be taken when using powder extinguishers that you do not inhale the powder. Powder extinguishers should therefore not be used in small, confined spaces where there is a risk of inhaling the powder. 

The clean up after applying a powder extinguisher is also very difficult and the powder causes damage to soft furnishing, carpets and computer drives etc. 

My view is that, it may be distressing to have to replace items within the home, but a lot less stress than losing your home or loved ones.

Hope this answers your question.

Bob Elsey


Thanks Bob. It was minor but only because I happened to hear it and so was able to throw water over it just as the flames started. The powder sounds a bit scary, especially as I have young children and all my rooms are relatively small. It is probably worth having though as water isn't good for every fire, I am well aware! 

Thanks for the advice. Our neighbours had an overly smokey bonfire at 5pm the other evening so we got to meet a fireman, it's really amazing how out of hand smoke gets. 

there is no single type of extinguisher which is totally effective on every kind of fire. So before buying a fire extinguisher, it is vital to look carefully at what type of fire it has to be used on. ”

Interesting thread Bob. Often thought if we should have an extinguisher in the house. Always had one in our caravan and have 2 in the car. But it's always thought of a home electrical fire that worries me, so would foam be a safer bet as a general extinguisher rather than water? 

Ok just saw your other post about types of extinguishers, so foam and electrical is a no good, didn't realise that

Guessing CO2 is the way forward as an allrounder?

Steve Richardson
Gaffer of My Local Services
My Local Services | Me on LinkedIn

Just get an extinguisher because if it never gets used then, yay. Better to have one rather than look back and wish you'd had one.

Many thanks,
Natalie - Your Local Girl Friday

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