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INTRODUCTION

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


SURVEY EXPECTATIONS

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.

The Food Industry

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