Business should be extra vigilant during school holidays

Article date: 15 July 2009

Aviva, the new name for Norwich Union, is warning businesses to be extra vigilant during the summer holidays as arson continues to be a significant cause of industrial and commercial fire in the UK.

The economic climate also means that more empty properties lay prey to arsonists. In 2006, according to the Communities and Local Government UK Fire Statistics, there were over 2000 deliberate fires involving commercial properties such as shops, vehicle trade premises, hotels, boarding houses and restaurants.

Paul Redington, property claims manager at Aviva, comments: “Action must be taken to prevent attacks. We want to ensure that businesses undertake risk management to protect their property by implementing a number of easy and cost effective measures.”

Waste stored outside a property in wheelie bins or on pallets, most commonly seen at supermarkets and industrial premises, is one of the most common causes of arson.

“Waste should be secure, out of reach and cleared away at the end of each day, it should not be allowed to accumulate in secluded areas. We have seen devastating fire damage due to unsecured bins being pushed against buildings and contents ignited causing fire to spread,” says Redington.

Fire damage to unoccupied buildings is also a major concern as children often use these spaces as playgrounds.

“Always ensure that perimeters are intact with good quality, well maintained fencing, walls and gates and entrances and windows are fully sealed or boarded up,” says Redington.                           

“Gaps beneath external doors should be kept as small as possible and letter boxes should be sealed to prevent mountains of post building up, a clear message to passers-by that a property is empty. 

“Empty properties should be inspected at least every seven days as a situation can change rapidly - once a trespasser is inside the property, the owner or occupier could be liable for any injury caused.                                                                  

“Any security that is in place should be made obvious. CCTV should be fully advertised as it can act as a strong deterrent. An effective automatic intruder alarm system is crucial and should be linked to a 24-hour manned alarm which will alert the Fire Brigade and the emergency services. An automatic fire/smoke detection system should also be installed to detect and locate fires in their early stages and help minimise damage. Security lighting, linked to a movement sensor, can also prove a useful deterrent.”

Redington also recommends that sprinkler systems are put in place: “Not only do they save lives but they reduce the cost of property damage and prevent the kind of post-fire disruption faced by surrounding communities and businesses.”

Finally, Redington advises property owners to control the movement of visitors, customers and suppliers and ensure they do not have access into staff-only areas. Staff should be encouraged to check credentials of anyone who should not be on the premises and report any suspicious behaviour.

He concludes: “It’s important that businesses do everything they can to protect themselves from arson. Many of these measures are simple and cost effective or “no cost” but could well prevent devastating incidents during the coming months.”

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For further information, please contact:
Jo Rosenberg at Staniforth on 0161 919 8014 / 07973 143215 or Sally Leeman, Aviva’s UK Insurance press office on 01603 684 225 / 07789 270 677. 

Notes to editors:

Aviva, the international savings, investments and insurance group, is the world’s fifth largest insurance group, serving 50 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

In the UK, Aviva is a leading provider of life, pensions, investment, general insurance and health products to more than 20 million customers. We also provide roadside assistance through RAC. Products are distributed through a number of channels including IFAs, brokers, corporate partners and direct to customers via the internet.

Aviva's UK Insurance business has a market share of around 15%, making it the largest general insurer in the UK. The business is focused on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

Aviva's life and pensions business in the UK has a total market share of 12% and a top three position in its key markets of savings, protection, and annuities.

Aviva’s news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.

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