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Consultants will need no reminding of the heavy fire loss experience suffered in the Food Industry in recent years, as a result of which most Insurers (including all RSS Clients) have adopted an extremely cautious underwriting approach to this sector, in respect of both new and existing business. Running parallel with this is the requirement for Consultants to be on their guard as far as food industry surveys are concerned and that full recognition is taken of RISCAuthority/FPA guidance and other codes.

As a direct consequence of the huge losses that have occurred in the UK, a number of important initiatives have been undertaken within the FPA (latterly the RISCAuthority), AIRMIC and the Chilled Food Association from which the following guidance documents have been published:

  • BDM4: Design guide for the fire protection of buildings – cold stores.

  • BDM5: Design guide for the fire protection of buildings – food factories.

  • BDM9: Code of practice –fire risk minimisation guidance for the food industry.

  • RC36:  Recommendations for fire prevention measures for bakery ovens.

  • RC60: Recommendations for fire safety with food smoking processes.

It is important that Consultants have an awareness of these documents, all of which are contained in ATLAS. This particularly applies to the Code of practice –fire risk minimisation guidance, which is considered by many to represent “the bible” as far as the identification, assessment and control of fire and explosion risks within the Food Industry. This document is made up as follows:

Section 1. Introduction and objectives

Section 2. Compliance with legislation and management of fire risks

Section 3. The minimisation of fire risk – core requirements

Section 4. Minimisation of fire risk – specific processes, equipment and materials

Section 5. Fire protection and detection equipment

Section 6. Emergency response and contingency planning

Section 7. Appendices including check lists


It follows that surveys carried out by RSS in the food industry are to be all embracing, during which particular attention is devoted to, amongst others, the following key factors:

  • Correct identification and assessment of composite panels as far as both external and internal construction is concerned, together with compliance with RSS Client composite panel conditions where applicable.


  • Elimination or control of potential ignition sources in general.

  • Fire safety management including self-inspection procedures, specifically in respect of composite panels but also fire safety generally.

  • Planned preventative maintenance of all plant and services, with particular reference to electrical inspection and thermographic testing.


  • A thorough assessment of the hazards of ovens, frying ranges, smokers and other cooking process plant, including temperature controls, interlocks and other safety features.


  • The presence and effectiveness of active and passive fire protection arrangements, including sprinklers, fire alarms, local suppression systems, etc.

Dealing with RC36, whilst this is specifically targeting bakeries, much of the advice contained in this document would equally apply to ovens generally, irrespective of their purpose. Ensuring correct oven location, temperature controls and effective maintenance and cleaning (including ductwork) are key considerations. Attention is also drawn to Section 6.8 as regards burning product and conveyors.

A further aspect in relation to ovens concerns the potential for ignition where flues or extract ducts pass through, or are situated close to, combustible building elements, partitions, ceilings and linings, particularly composite panels. Close attention to this matter and application of RSS standard risk improvement wordings in this regard is essential.

It is important to recognise that food smoking is a hazardous process to which Consultants should pay close attention, with risk assessment and control based on the information and recommendations contained in RC60

Where appropriate, this Technical Guidance Note should be cross referenced with TB 42 – Grain Storage and Processing.

Where Consultants have the need for specific advice or are looking for a second opinion on a key issue relating to a food industry survey, initial contact should be made with the Technical Helpline.

TG04: The Food Industry

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