Code of practice revised on fire risk reduction

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food industry, Insurance

A revised code of practice has been issued on how to reduce fire
risk in the UK food and drink industry.

By following the practices outlined in the document, processors can reduce their fire risks, and also potentially defend themselves if an insurance company disputes a claim. For non-UK companies the guide could serve as a reference manual on fire risk reduction. Tyson, Finsbury Food, and Fletchers Bakeries are just some of the companies that have suffered fires over the past two years that disabled entire production plants. The new edition updates the approach that individual companies must take to ensure that they are fully compliant with legislative requirements. It also provides guidance on lowering the risk of fire in both new and existing structures. The revised guide was compiled by the Insurers' Fire Research Strategy Scheme (InFiReS), the Association of Insurers and Risk Managers (Airmic) and the Food Industry Panels Group (FIPG). Fire has been and continues to be one of the major issues facing the food processing and storage and distribution industries in the UK, the group stated in releasing the document this month. "Fire risk exposures in the industry can be created by the presence of high hazard processes and the widespread use of combustible construction materials," Airmic stated. "Typically, premises are not sprinkler protected and are located in remote areas with limited cover by the local fire brigade." The guidance marks the latest attempt to address the two most prominent problems of recent years in the relationship between insurers and the food industry, Airmic stated. The guidance aims to establish a generic property loss control standard that companies can follow in the expectation that damage caused by fire will be kept to a minimum. It also outlines a code a practice in relation to fire risks that has the support of the UK insurance industry, the group stated. The approach is to encourage ongoing gradual improvement that is economically viable, Airmic stated. Given the changes to fire safety legislation, the guidance also updates the approach that individual companies must take to ensure that they are fully compliant with legislative requirements. According to the UK's industry association for chilled food processors the new code of practice covers the following areas: Compliance with legislation and management of fire risks; The minimisation of fire risk - core requirements including permits to work and maintenance; Minimisation of fire risk - equipment and materials including construction, composite panels and specific production processes; Fire protection and detection equipment; Emergency response and contingency planning; and, Housekeeping, fire checklist, work permits, approved suppliers and installers of approved composite panels. The FIPG was formed as a result of the ongoing friction between the food and insurance sectors over fire risk at plants, according to the group. "Whilst there have been a number of attempts in the past to evolve a generally agreed standard that food companies can work towards, there has been no universal consensus on what is a proper and economic way to control fire risk in the food industry," the document states. InFiReS is made up of a group of insurers, including those that underwrite food industry risks in the UK. Derek Mason, group risk and insurance manager at Uniq, said when the first edition came out in 2003 it was always the group's intention to work with the insurance industry to produce a second edition. He is also chair of the Airmic group. "When the property insurance market next hardens this code should give property risk managers ammunition to counter the wilder excesses and nonsensical demands of some insurers that were previously seen," he stated. The fire risk code of practice document is available here:

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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