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Preventing fires at retail units

At a glance

  • Tenanted retail units are often found in shopping centres
  • Common practices, such as storing combustibles and wedging open fire doors, present a number of potential fire hazards for these units
  • Our interactive infographic explains how to minimise fire hazards and increase the effectiveness of alarms and suppression systems

Tenanted retail units, commonly found in shopping centres and department stores, pose a number of unique risk management challenges. After years of undertaking risk management surveys at these premises, we have identified a number of common issues that have the potential to either start or sustain fires.

Based on these observations, our expert Risk Engineers have issued guidance points that can assist your Real Estate customers in better managing the risk of fire at their premises.

Our interactive infographic highlights common issues and recommends control measures to minimise fire hazards and increase the effectiveness of alarms and suppression systems.

For more information on any of the points raised, or to discuss our market-leading proposition for wholesale and retail customers, please speak with your local Zurich contact.

You can also find out more and access helpful guides and insight with our new Fire Risk Resource.</strong

Observation – Fire hazard by storing combustibles near electrical systems.

Control – Keep areas solely for their intended use. Never use for storage. Keep locked at all times.

Observation – Impact damage to electrical apparatus. Fire hazard by storing combustibles near electrical systems.

Control – Maintain at least 0.5 meters of clear space around electrical apparatus. Use guide rails, warning notices and/or floor markings to establish this clear area.

Observation – Sprinklers rendered ineffective due to storage obstructing sprinkler heads.

Control – Limit storage heights in accordance with sprinkler system capabilities. Maintain at least 0.5 metres of clear space beneath sprinkler deflectors.

Observation – Damaged pipework and water leakage due to hanging items.

Control – Strictly prohibit hanging items from sprinkler pipework.

Observation – Mechanical damage to trailing electrical leads, resulting in short circuits, overload, overheating and ignition. Trailing leads also risk trips and slips, and resulting liability claims against the property owners and/or its occupants.

Control – Avoid any trailing leads unless essential. Regularly inspect any essential trailing leads for damage.

Observation – Overloading and ignition from the use of multi-point adapters.

Control – Remove any multipoint adapter and have a competent electrician install additional electrical sockets.

Observation – Fire spread aided by combustibles stored along fire escape routes and staircases.

Control – Keep all such areas free of combustibles and other obstructions.

Observation – Fire doors held open with hooks, wedges, fire extinguishers and other obstructions removing an essential protection against fire spread. Items in doorways also present a trip hazard and risk potential liability claims.

Control – Keep fire doors closed at all times. Only hold open using special magnet or acoustic devices that release on activation of the fire alarm system.

Observation – Missing tiles causing smoke and/or heat to be drawn up into the void, delaying activation of alarms and sprinkler heads.

Control – Replace missing tiles, particularly where fire detection or suppression is placed on the underside of a suspended ceiling.

Image © Getty

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