Press release

Fire service plea to businesses: “It’s time to clean up your act”

Phot of Gary Edgcombe, Business Engagement Officer at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

By Essex County Fire and Rescue Service 
Business Engagement Officer Gary Edgcombe

Having served as a firefighter in Essex for 26 years, I have witnessed the heartbreaking destruction of businesses by arsonists. Perhaps most disheartening is the fact that many never bounce back, with almost 60% of business unable to recover after a fire.

However, most of these fires are preventable and there’s a number of measures businesses can take to protect themselves against deliberate fires.

As a fire service we investigate every fire we attend. One of the things we look is what was set alight first. In most cases it involves waste or items which are outside the buildings. Now, arsonists don’t lug around large quantities of rubbish or old sofas to set fire to. They see the huge piles or rubbish piled up leaning against the back of the building and set fire to it.

The key lies in effective waste management.

My advice for businesses is get your waste and rubbish procedures in order. It could be the difference in your business thriving or burning to the ground.

In my new role as a Business Engagement Officer, I visit business to help them become more fire safe, and I draw on my firefighting background. One of my initial checks involves assessing the location and frequency of rubbish collection.

During a recent visit to a row of shops, I discovered overflowing bins against the back of the building. No security lighting and no CCTV. It’s an impending disaster. The owners hadn’t considered it a fire risk, but a brief explanation from me prompted them to re -organise their waste location and security measures.


Here are my top tips:

1. Don’t let your rubbish build up: Get regular collection to eliminate potential targets for arsonists

2. Secure bin storage: Store bins away from the building with lockable lids to deter unauthorised access

3. Review Your security measures: Regularly review your fire risk assessment to identify security vulnerabilities that could lead to a potential arson attack

4. Employee training: Educate employees on fire safety and encourage reporting of suspicious activities.

Implementing these measures can be the difference between your business thriving or going up in smoke.

Did you find this page useful?