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Covid-19: Security and arson protection advice in unoccupied buildings

The UK’s national fire safety organisation, the Fire Protection Association is offering security and arson protection advice for building and business owners and insurers – a free guide to managing the risk during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Of particular relevance to the coronavirus crisis is “Unauthorised occupation of non-residential premises” – a guide to managing the risk, which is available as a free download.

As many businesses have had to move out of their buildings temporarily – and at some speed, owners may not have had time to consider that vacant buildings are often more susceptible to the risk of fire (arson), criminal activity, misuse and malicious damage. This guide looks at what preparations, practical measures and security controls can be applied to help manage the risk.

The main areas covered by the guide are:

  • The growing challenge of unauthorised occupations – Insurers report that there has been a significant increase in the frequency and severity of claims for damage and clear up costs arising from unauthorised occupations of vacant properties.
  • Evolution of the problem – Frequently reported are occupations by large numbers of well organised groups making use of empty buildings for dumping by fly tippers in return for cash payment.
  • Vigorous action required – In the light of how this problem is developing, managers and owners would be well advised to revise their risk assessment and, if necessary, take rigorous action to reinforce the physical resistance of their vacant building.
  • Importance of planning – Advance planning covering the preparations that need to be made in advance of an occupation, the actions required should an occupation occur and those needed to protect the operation and assets going forward, is just as important as physical preparations.
  • The law and policing – As part of the advanced planning, managers and owners should acquaint themselves with the legal and policing environment they will find themselves in should the worst happen and trespasses need to be ejected.
  • Help and support – The advice and support of professionals, consultants and specialist services can be invaluable before, during and following an unauthorised occupation.

Jonathan O’Neill, the Fire Protection Association’s Managing Director commented: “The Fire Protection Association published this guide in 2017, as part of our commitment not only to fire protection, but business resilience – and companies, building owners and insurers would be well advised to read it, to help with implementing their Covid-19 crisis plans.”

To read the full report please click here.

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