In these unprecedented times, as the UK’s national fire safety organisation, the Fire Protection Association is offering businesses its wealth of knowledge and advice. 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.
Insurers report that there is often a significant increase in the frequency and severity of claims for damage and clear up costs arising from unauthorised occupations of vacant properties. The Fire Protection Association’s guide explores the trend and offers guidance for owners and insurers.
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.
- Vigourous 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 rigourous 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 says:
“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.”
The Fire Protection Association’s (FPA) report is published by its sister organisation RISCAuthority - a scheme supported by a significant group of UK insurers that conducts research in support of the development and dissemination of best practice on the protection of property and business.
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