Fire can be devastating; you or your family or employees could be hurt, or even worse killed, and it can cause damage and destruction to your property and ruin your business. Having seen many businesses destroyed by fires, we at The NFRN Mutual would advise all retailers to take some simple steps to protect themselves. Below are the four main causes of fire in retail premises and some helpful hints and tips to try to prevent them.


Arson – Though mostly random you can still do a few things to try to help prevent an arson attack.

  • Make sure the outside of the shop is well lit so that that anyone loitering can be seen by passers-by.
  • Store all combustible material like paper and cardboard away from buildings, ideally in lockable bins or lidded skips and make sure they are emptied regularly.
  • If possible securely fence or gate off storage areas to prevent unwanted access.
  • Keep an eye out for potential indicators of trouble, for example graffiti or damage to the outside of your property.

Electrical faults – Unfortunately as the number of recent claims shows electrical fires in shops are more common than you would think. Faulty equipment such as freezers, fridges and overloading of plugs can all result in major fires.

  • Frequently inspect all electrical equipment as well as fixed electrical wiring.
  • Make sure older style fuse boxes are replaced with modern consumer units; many of the fires that we have dealt with started at old fuse boxes.
  • Don’t let dust build up on fans and motors of fridges, freezers and heating/cooling units.
  • Don’t overload sockets with high wattage appliances and switch things off that don’t need to be left on.
  • Consider PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) electrical items to ensure they are safe.

Poor storage practices – Many fires occur from poor judgement when storing stock and rubbish.

  • Try not to store combustible materials like paper and cardboard near gas or electric heaters, boilers or any other heat generating equipment like fridge and freezer compressors.
  • Avoid using portable heaters that have a naked flames, use fan heaters instead.

Smoking – Smoking in the shop is against the law and ideally there should be no smoking anywhere on the premises. If you or your staff smoke, only smoke in an area which is kept free of items that could catch fire such as paper, curtains and flammable liquids.

Other top Fire Safety tips to keep your premises safe:

  • Fit smoke alarms; we suggest placing one near your consumer units. If you can afford one, a fire detection/warning system could save your life.
  • Make sure you have fire extinguishers to help deal with small fires.
  • Keep stock and rubbish away from doors and stairs to keep escape routes clear.
  • Make sure staff know what to do if there is a fire.

Remember, all of these are much cheaper than dealing with the results of a fire. Even if the repair costs are covered, you can’t replace lost lives or cherished possessions.