News broke this week that firefighters were called out to the Titanic social club in Rawmarsh, South Yorkshire after arsonists had set fire to a rubbish pile in the building.
Luckily, the club is not currently in use and no one was harmed in the blaze.
However, the MO of the attack and the speed at which the fire started should act as warning signs to all other social clubs, community centres and venues.
Police have confirmed that they believe the fire was started deliberately, but overflowing waste piles are just as likely to catch fire by accident.
It’s rare that a working social club will have a build-up of rubbish within their buildings, but we’ve come across far too many clubs who aren’t following correct procedures for waste disposal.
Most insurance policies will have conditions about waste storage and disposal including the type of bin or container used and how far waste and refuge should be from the club building.
This usually reads something along the lines of ‘daily waste removals, and waste kept in metal containers with lids at least 10 m from any building’.
These conditions do vary though, and it’s important that you check your policy wording to get a full understanding of the requirements.
The other key part of this story is that the building was not in use – the social club had stopped operating a while ago.
Unoccupied buildings actually require a bespoke unoccupied policy and if you are planning on vacating your premises, you should let your insurance partner know as soon as possible.
The policy has to be unique for unoccupied buildings as they carry many risks that wouldn’t exist in an occupied buildings which are in constant use and always monitored.
To ensure that you stay on top of your risk management for unoccupied buildings, here are some of our top tips:
- Remove combustible unfixed contents or waste from inside and outside of the buildings
- Drain and isolate flammable liquid storage tanks and ensure that these can’t be accessed
- Remove liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders and portable heaters from the site
- Ensure the fire alarms and sprinklers are in good working order and remain operational
- Ensure all ground floor windows and letterboxes are securely boarded over
- Disconnect utilities at the perimeter of the building
- Drain water tanks, pipes and apparatus except those used for the sprinkler system
- Protect sprinkler pipes from freezing and clean any storm water drainage and gutters
- Ensure locks and boundaries are strong and well maintained and that windows and skylights are secured or boarded up
- Check that alarms and security lighting are in good working order
- Most policies require a documented check on the building at least weekly to check for things like trespassers and building damage
By taking the proper precautions when it comes to keeping your buildings and grounds safe and secure, you can avoid incidents like the one in South Yorkshire, and paying for expensive repairs.
We’re happy to offer advice on all insurance issues affecting clubs, including waste disposal and avoiding fires.
Contact Club Insure today for a no-obligation conversation.