Investing to avert tragedy

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As the British public reel from the tragic news of the loss of four brave firefighters who died in a warehouse fire at a fruit and vegetable packing plant in Atherstone, Warwicks, at the weekend, questions relating to safety procedures and documentation over staff numbers on industrial sites come to the fore.

Warehouse fires are devastating enough when stock/buildings are damaged and disruption occurs to the supply chain, but when lives are lost questions need to be asked about whether practices and procedures are adequate.

Compliance to fire codes is of course mandatory, but this should be regarded by a company as a starting point – a bare minimum – rather than a satisfactory end point to the journey. Unfortunately, investment beyond the minimum is rarely considered in most companies. This attitude needs to change.

But an issue which is becoming increasingly important is ensuring that documentation regarding the number of individuals working on a site at any given point is communicated swiftly to the firefighters should a fire break out. With a rising number of immigrant workers taking up employment in Western Europe, correct records and easy access of this information is essential to firefighters when making risk assessments over sending firemen into dangerous situations.

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