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Managing Buldings During School During School Holiday Periods

  • Combined Insurance
  • Property Insurance
The Knowledge
,
23rd August 2021

Losses often occur during school holidays. These losses include arson, vandalism and theft as well as fires due to poorly managed building activities involving hot work processes. This guide explores some of the risks and control measures required.

Waste control

Waste is often used as a primary source of combustible material during incidents of arson. Small incidents of firesetting are often a precursor to a larger arson incident.  Waste bins and containers should ideally be secured within a locked compound constructed with a minimum 2.4 metres high palisade fencing or brick walls with gates of equivalent security. Where possible waste compounds should be located a minimum of 10 metres from any building. If it isn’t possible to have a waste compound, waste should be stored within metal (or other fire-resistant material) skips which are lidded, locked and located as far as possible from buildings. 

Hot Work

When employees or building contractors are undertaking hot work processes (e.g. involving welding, spark generating equipment, blow lamps/torches  etc) a control system must be in place, in particular the use of hot work permits. More details can be found here. The permit is a written safe system of work used to prevent fire or explosion and will specifically detail the work to be carried out, how and when it is to be done and the precautions to be taken. A Travelers hot work permit can be obtained from the Travelers Risk Control customer portal – https://www.mytravelers.travelers.co.uk/wps/portal/trv/

The RISCAuthority guidance on hot works, accessed here must be observed. Recommendations include: 

  • A responsible worker is appointed to facilitate compliance with all hot work requirements and authorise any permits.
  • Permission from the occupier/owner of the site has been granted for the use of hot work equipment and suitable and adequate fire extinguishing appliances are provided at the point of use (as a minimum a ninelitre water or a two-kilogram multi-purpose fire extinguisher).
  • All workers are aware of the location of fire alarms and fire-fighting equipment provided on site which shall be ready for operation at the time the hot work equipment is in use.
  • All combustible material or flammable liquid or gases in the vicinity of the work, other than gas or fuel connected to the equipment, shall be purged or removed to a point at least 10 metres from the area. This includes combustibles / flammables on the other side of any ceilings, floors, walls or partitions adjacent to the work area.
  • Any combustible material or flammable liquid or gases which cannot be reasonably moved shall be covered and fully protected by overlapping  sheets/screens of non-combustible material.
  • Where the nature of materials or liquids or gases cannot be properly verified by a suitably qualified person as non-combustible or non-flammable, they must be assumed as combustible or flammable and all stated precautions be carried out in full.
  • All hot work equipment should be examined prior to use and any defects found repaired or replaced prior to use.
  • Hot work equipment must always be attended whilst in operation and only used in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions and by competent workers.
  • Where possible heating processes or hot cutting should be conducted off site / outdoors and away from critical operations and combustible materials.
  • A fire watch must be completed post work and then at regular intervals for at least one hour following completion. The fire watch should ensure there is no risk of fire in all areas where heat or sparks may have spread during hot works.

Security

There should be a written security policy which evidences all the procedures appropriate to the security of buildings and their occupants, especially during periods of unoccupancy or reduced occupancy. It should be in the form of a security manual, which allows easy reference by all people with a security  responsibility. The following might be included:

  • Frequency and recording of site and building inspections.
  • Setting and maintenance of intruder alarms
  • Opening and locking up procedures.
  • Maintenance of security protections (e.g. locks, lighting, fencing and gates, CCTV etc).
  • Access control and identification of all visitors
  • Recording all security breaches and incidents in a logbook and the responses to those breaches.
  • Duties of facilities staff and site managers.
  • List of all names and telephone numbers of people and companies involved in building security.
  • Cash handling procedures.

Good perimeter security is often an effective deterrent to unauthorised visitors however careful consideration should also be given to vulnerable areas such  as flat roofs, building recesses and courtyards, as well as ground floor doors and windows. Where theft or trespass are a concern, consider additional barriers, such as bars, screens, shutters and anti-climb security for drainpipes, roof access ladders etc. 

Intruder Alarms

Most buildings should be protected by an intruder alarm system. The system should be maintained by a company who are approved by the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or certified by the Security Systems and Alarms Inspection Board (SSAIB). Reliable detection of intrusion and response to activations is important. As a minimum the system should have a general level of detection, including external doors, and provide a confirmed activation when intruders move from one area to another throughout the premises. There should be more specific detection for any higher theft risk areas,
for example, where concentrations of valuable laptop / tablet computer equipment are located or stores for groundsman’s tools and equipment.

The alarm should have remote signalling to an alarm receiving centre who will then call registered keyholders and the police. 

There are now numerous types of signalling system. A dual path signalling system which meets LPS 1277 (Loss Prevention Standard) ATS 5 or DP3 provides a high standard of monitoring for the remote signalling paths.

Property Marking of High Value Equipment

For higher value electronics, computer equipment and audio-visual equipment security marking should be considered. These markings can be either visible or invisible systems and provide a permanent ID, allowing easier recovery of property and helping to restrict the sale of stolen property.

Secure Areas

For accumulations of high value equipment such as media systems, television and audio equipment, photographic equipment and musical instruments, it is advisable that additional secure storage is considered. A secure area could be as simple as a cupboard with a solid timber door secured by two BS3621 mortice deadlocks and hinge bolts. If the secure area has ground floor windows or is situated
on an upper floor with accessible windows these windows should be fitted with additional security bars or grilles.

Contractors

If contractors are undertaking work during quiet periods,  always follow best practices when appointing and managing contractors. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provide a useful guide on the selection of competent contractors, a copy can be found here.

Prior to undertaking any works, any contractor must confirm in writing that they have current and adequate Employers Liability and Public Liability insurance for the proposed work period.

Automatic Fire Alarm Detection/Remote Signalling

A significant feature in the size and cost of building fires is the delay in them being detected. To provide for early detection during periods that a building is unoccupied they should be protected by automatic fire alarms installed in accordance with BS5839 (Fire Detection and Alarm Systems: Code of Practice for System Design, Installation and Service.) A monitored remote connection to an alarm receiving centre should help ensure early attendance by the fire service should an incident occur.