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Workplace Health & Safety

Reduced occupancy – Arson and malicious damage control

commercial water damage

During times of reduced occupancy buildings, businesses and property owners face the very real increased threat of arson and malicious damage.

There are steps you can take today to protect your property.  These include a review of existing protective and control measures to help ward off those seeking to take advantage of vacancy.


Arson often costs more than accidental fires

Compared to accidental fires, deliberately set fires can cause considerably more property damage leading to significantly higher costs for repair and replacement.  Arson fires may: 

  • Be started when the property is largely or totally unoccupied; delaying discovery.
  • Involve several different points of ignition.
  • Be worsened or hastened by the deliberate disabling of fire alarms and fire sprinkler systems.
  • Be started at particularly vulnerable locations.
  • Be accelerated by flammable liquids or other agents.
  • Be deliberately designed to mask another crime.


Properties with a greater risk of deliberately set fires may include unoccupied buildings, government buildings, educational or research facilities, warehouses and industrial premises.


What you can do right now

To help manage the risk of arson, consider the following:

  • Identifying who and what is at greatest risk, in terms of people, property assets and combustible materials.
  • Reduce and eliminate possible ignition sources.
  • Keep parked cars and other non-essential vehicles at least 30 m from important buildings.
  • Remove fuel sources and any combustible storage at least 10 m away from important buildings.
  • Idle pallets, packaging, hazardous materials or combustible temporary buildings should be removed from site, particularly from yard areas.


Review existing protective measures and help ward off those seeking to make a challenging situation even worse.


Review security measures

  • Make sure windows, doors, and other entry points are secured.
  • Consider increasing the number of security guards, areas to be inspected, check points and duration; especially during overnight hours and weekends.
  • Ensure additional guards have up to date site information.
  • Increase exterior security lighting around the facility.
  • Make sure the intrusion alarms are in good working order and monitored by 24-hour security response service.
  • IoT (Internet of Things) enabled security cameras are easier than ever to install. Consider enhancing your existing security system to improve visibility, implementing digital barriers or remote notification of intrusion.
  • Review resilience of security alarm response and call-out protocols due to potential reductions in staffing and service capabilities.


Further guidance

Visit the Chubb Risk Engineering Resource Centre. Link to Chubb Risk Engineering Resource Centre


Contact us

For more information about protecting your business, email your local risk engineer at or visit us at

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