The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a number of property closures with resultant Property risk precautions needing to be applied. These are for Fire, Theft and Special Perils. There is general guidance on ‘Physical Protection of Empty Buildings’ in the Security section of the UMAL Technical Library.

The Precautions

  • Fire
    > Ensuretheintegrityofthefiremains,sprinkler
    or water mist system by completing the regular checks as if the building was occupied.
    > Maintain the fire alarm system.

  • Ensure the connection to the Control Centre is maintained and checked.
  • Complete the weekly manual all point checks for each building.

  • If there are inadequate resources to complete the alarm call point checks at least check the fire panel for each building on a weekly basis to determine if faults exist but use the available resources to continue checking the sounders for any building in which people remain during the working day.

    > Reduce the fire load, if possible, by removing all combustible waste in buildings
    > Reduce arson risks by ensuring there is no combustible material or waste, such as in bins, within 10 metres of any building. This is particularly important if there are also adjacent buildings to which fire could also spread
    > Complete an inspection to ensure all doors and fire shutters are closed to assist fire compartmentation


  • Ensure the intruder alarm is operational and connected to Security or an Alarm Receiving Centre.

  • Regularly check for signs of intruders or unauthorised persons by using security patrols and/or monitored CCTV.

Special Perils

  • There should be regular internal inspections to check for pipe leakages or water ingress.
  • Drainpipes and gutters should be checked to ensure they are not blocked. Draining channels should also be checked – this is to prevent both rainwater ingress and surface water flooding risks being exacerbated.
  • Water pipes that are not needed should be drained down to prevent freezing a lowering risk as time goes on this year). Any area containing water pipes or tanks should be kept at a minimum temperature of 40C.
  • Any disconnection/isolation (or locking off where appropriate) should be undertaken in such a way that reconnection is not easily achievable by intruders or unauthorised persons.

Inspections of special equipment

  • There should be a check to ensure all -800c and -1500C freezers have alarm connections to persons who are in a position to react to salvage freezer contents.
  • All liquid nitrogen dewars should be checked to ensure the lids are secure – these will need to be re-checked before the estimated rime of evaporation has elapsed to ensure the safety of research contents within.
  • There should remain the monthly checks on emergency generators, so as to ensure they will work when needed.
  • The annual integrity tests of rooms containing gas fire suppression systems should be done. This is particularly important for FM200 as these inspections are required under the fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2009.
  • If there are any laboratory experiments that have been left working and involve water or flammables, they should be subject to very regular checks.