A loud voice in the industry amid insurance claims is shouting a strong reminder of the importance of keeping up fire safety procedures amid the Covid19 pandemic. The warning comes from NFU Mutual as figures show a significant 46% spike in the number of claims over the same period in 2019, following fires in commercial properties from 22nd March 2020, when the lockdown was introduced until 31st July 2020.
“These comments echo our own concerns as annual routines have been interrupted” said Jon Limer, Director of Peninsula Fire Safety. “There is a temptation to set aside fire safety measures; this is a serious concern, as these worrying figures so plainly illustrate” continued Jon. “We are seeing changes, to both buildings and how companies and occupiers are using them. Very often fire safety has been overshadowed in favour of Covid19 priorities”.
The legal requirement remains for there to be a Fire Risk Assessment in place for all non-domestic buildings. This must take account of the reality, not an historic situation. Any modifications or changes in operations and usage may trigger the need for a review.
Jon Limer clarified “A Fire Risk Assessment considers the whole circumstances, not just the fabric of a building. Companies are changing their operations. Partitioning added, office layouts and uses are being altered or exit routes changed, all of which throw up potential implications. Our guidance to our existing clients is to contact us to discuss any planned changes and we urge all companies and owners of non-domestic buildings to do the same.”
As yet, for most companies a Fire Risk Assessment isn’t part of the application for insurance cover, but it is evident that they and other fire safety policies and procedures are key documents in any claims process. However, Peninsula Fire Safety’s hope is that their advice prevents there being any fires and claims!