Clip of the Primark Fire

This short clip shows the early stages of the fire in Belfast's Primark before it spread to the lower floors.


Paper Factory Fire - An Extended Look

"We had in total 20 fire engines and 100 fire fighters". A factory fire in Wolverhampton ripped through the building and was still alight 6 hours after the fire started. Watch an extended look at the devastation and interview with the area commander.



CCTV Everywhere
The UK is often cited as being one of the most surveillanced societies in the world. And that’s because CCTV has proven to be very popular amongst UK homeowners, businesses, local authorities and police forces. As a result, the country’s citizens are amongst the most watched in the world. According to the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) there are between 4-5.9 million CCTV cameras in the country. There are 500,000 cameras in London alone!

Your Image and GDPR

For many years, UK regulation over image data was relatively light touch. But all that changed in May via the introduction of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR for short). The regulation strengthens the privacy laws governing the data of EU citizens. And this includes any image data which may allow individuals to be personally identified.

Brexit Won’t Matter

But before you think ‘hang on, surely Brexit will change things?’, think again. The UK Government has declared its intent to write GDPR into UK law.

One of the reasons for this is to remove any potential barriers to security post-Brexit that might arise if the UK had an alternative data protection framework. Considering that ‘security’ issues are one of the few areas where it is fervently hoped that close cooperation with the country’s former EU partners will continue, it’s extremely likely this regulation is here to stay.

Employers, CCTV and GDPR

There are many reasons why employers use CCTV, such as to protect assets and to monitor employees. Lawful bases of employee monitoring include crime prevention, preventing employee misconduct and ensuring health and safety compliance.

To comply with GDPR an employer must have a strong, ‘fair use’ reason for the use of CCTV placement. This means putting together a business case to explain why the images are being collected, one that must also illustrate how the information will be stored and when it will be disposed of.

If CCTV is being installed for any purpose by employers then GDPR requirements must now be at forefront of all considerations. The rights of employees, customers and other parties should be addressed, keeping in mind that monitoring is only permissible if there is a lawful basis for doing so.

Data Storage
Any personal data collected by employers must be used and kept only to fulfil its original purpose. For instance, if an employee has been filmed because of suspected criminal activity, the footage should reflect this.
Any data captured on CCTV can be retained for 30 days in total (although this can be kept longer if needed, following a risk assessment). One justifiable reason for an extension in the example above, would be because the police wanted to use the footage.

Encryption And Safety

CCTV recordings and other logs must be stored securely and encrypted wherever possible. When connected to the Internet or the cloud, CCTV systems are open to cyber-attacks. The security of the data held can be improved by limiting direct access and having systems in place to prevent online attacks.

Access to Data

Any individuals that have been identifiably caught on film have the right to request a copy of the employers CCTV footage. If the request is valid, the business involved must supply that footage within 30 days.

Show Them What You’re Doing

‘As part of a business's’ obligation under the legislation you must tell people that you are taking their personal data. The most effective way of doing this is by using prominently placed signs in any area covered by CCTV. This should be at the entrance to the area, as well as within’ Danny Adamson, Managing Director of signage makers, Stocksigns Group, recently told  Facilities Management Journal.

Signs Checklist

  1. All signs need to be clear and legible. There can be no confusion
  2. Signs should explain why the cameras are there
  3. They should also contain information about who is operating them and who to contact with a query
  4. Equally, those responsible for the CCTV operation should be aware of what to do in the event of a query
  5. Signs should be an appropriate in size. If a sign is deemed deliberately small (i.e. it was meant to viewed from a road but was tiny) then you could be seen as being in breach of your responsibilities

Penalties For Breaking the Rules

Failure to do any of the the above could result in investigation and fines. The GDPR rules have introduced, new, strict penalties where the personal data protection standards are not met. Businesses can now be fined up to €20 million or 4 per cent of turnover (whichever is the highest) if proven to have breached the rules.

Fire Safety for Manufacturing Business

Fire might be man's oldest friend, but it can still be a deadly enemy too. And in the workplace, nowhere is that more the case than in manufacturing.

Recent UK Manufacturing Fires

In the early hours of the morning, on the 11 December 2017, an explosion at the Timet UK metal smelting plant in Birmingham caused the death of a factory worker.

A few months earlier in June, the food and drink manufacturer, Princes, suffered a major blaze at their Bradford factory, one that required 60 firefighters to contain.

And in May, the Jacobs Douwe Egberts (JDE) factory in Banbury was the location for a fire that necessitated fire crews from Bicester and Banbury fire stations and fire engines from Warwickshire and Northamptonshire to bring it under control.

Fire Safety Responsibilities

Despite a fire safety record in the UK that is healthier today than it was a generation ago, the above illustrates that blazes do still occur. The responsibility for stopping them breaking out in the first instance is, under UK law, very much placed on those in charge.

Under the 2005 The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, any person who has some level of control over premises must legally take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape should one occur.

And What if I Don’t Do Anything?

Well, the short answer is potential prosecution. Should a fire take place and you, as the ‘person in control’ is suspected of being negligent in your responsibilities, then depending on the severity of the outcome, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) or the Police could choose to investigate.


And the number of prosecutions is increasing. In the year to 31 March 2016, for example, the HSE prosecuted 46 company directors and managers for health and safety violations, compared to just 12 for the year before. Of these, 12 were sentenced to prison.

What Do I Need to Do?

According to the Order, the ‘person in control’ must:

     Carry out a fire-risk assessment identifying any possible dangers and risks

     Consider who may be especially at risk

     Get rid of or reduce the risk from fire as far as is reasonably possible and provide general fire precautions to deal with any possible risk left

     Create a plan to deal with any emergency and, in most cases, keep a record of the findings

     Review the findings when necessary

7 Common Fire Safety Risks to Keep in Mind

Taking Care with Hazardous Materials
Hazardous materials can act as fuel for any fire.  If you don’t have systems and procedures in place, such as safe areas for materials and activities or a ‘permit to work system’ then it's a very good idea to get something established. Equally, existing systems can be forgotten in day-to-day activities, so health and safety staff and fire marshals should be on the look-out for activities that don’t match up to best practice.

Clean Up That Dust!

You can’t eliminate dust entirely but if it settles on surfaces in sufficient volume (often in the roof) it can reach dangerous levels and become potentially combustible, resulting in explosion and fire. This can be avoided by adequate ventilation and by following a regular housekeeping regime.

What’s the Building Made Of?

The horrifying events at Grenfell Tower have thrown building construction under the spotlight. Fire Risk Assessments in the past have sometimes failed to take into account whether the materials used in construction are suitable. Make sure your assessment takes into account the material within the structure and also other elements of the building, such as its design and its occupancy levels.

Can Employees Use the Equipment Safely?

In 2013-2014 2,000 fires in UK workplaces were caused by a misuse of equipment. To help prevent this from happening in your business, ensure your staff are trained properly. It's also a good idea to ensure that safety equipment is available at all times.

Smoking: Keep it Under Control

It might be on the decline nationwide, but smoking is still another common cause of fire in the workplace, with over a third of deaths in non-domestic buildings being attributed to it. According to UNISON, employers with 'enclosed workspaces’ (which have to be smoke free) must by law,

     display no-smoking signs in workplaces and work vehicles
     take reasonable steps to make sure that staff, customers, members and visitors are aware that they may not smoke in the premises or in work vehicles
     make sure that no one smokes on the premises or in vehicles

Those who don’t have enclosed workspaces still have a responsibility not to expose their workers to hazards and must therefore take appropriate steps to prevent or minimise any risks from smoking.

What To Do What There’s Change

Updating your risk assessment is vital. Few businesses remain in a state of stasis and change is normal. With change can come new risks or alterations to old ones. Whether it's something like a new extension, the arrival of new machinery or a change in working practices, the effect on fire safety can be profound.

The Danger of Electricity

Electrical fires are one of the top five causes of fires in manufacturing plants and can be created by wiring that is exposed or fitted incorrectly, overloaded outlets, extension cords, overloaded circuits and machinery left untended.

Ensure that best practice is followed in the workplace:

     Don’t overload electrical equipment or circuits
     Don’t leave temporary equipment plugged in when it’s not in use
     Ensure that qualified professionals deal with all wiring issues
     Avoid using extension cords, and never consider them as long-term solutions

But Nothing Might Ever Happen?

Even if you’re lucky enough to not experience a fire, you can still get in trouble if your fire safety standards are poor. A visit from a local fire officer, as part of a fire safety audit will check that your fire risk assessment and fire prevention measures are appropriate. If they are not you can be served with an escalating list of notices, depending on the risk.

What if I ignore Them?

Well, you could be fined or go to prison if you don’t follow fire safety regulations. Minor penalties can be up to £5,000. Major penalties can have unlimited fines and up to 2 years in prison.

The Role of a Fire Warden

Making sure workers are fire safety trained in your office is a requirement under the legislation, but what does it take to fulfil the role of fire warden? Watch this video to find out.


The History of CCTV

If you’ve been out today, there’s a very good chance that you’ve been caught on camera. As of 2016, there are about 350 million CCTV cameras worldwide. We have become a planet under surveillance.

In the Beginning

The CCTV camera has a somewhat inauspicious origin story. The technology was first used by Seimens AG for the Nazis in 1942.  The cameras were installed at Test Stand VII in Peenemunde, Germany, for observing the launch of V-2 rockets.

This was a very basic system that could only be used for live monitoring. They technology did not yet exist for such systems to record footage.

Rumble in the Jungle

One of the earliest applications of CCTV came via the world of boxing, where it was used as a form of pay-per-view theatre TV.

Boxing telecasts were broadcast live to a select number of venues where viewers paid for tickets to watch the fight live.

The first fight to be broadcast via CCTV was Joe Lewis vs. Joe Walcott in 1948. These telecasts grew in popularity, peaking with the iconic fights of Muhammad Ali in the 1960s and 1970s. Possibly his most famous tussle, the  Rumble in the Jungle  against George Foreman in Zaire (modern day Congo) drew  50 million CCTV viewers worldwide in 1974.

Fighting Crime

Although the city of Hamburg in Germany had used CCTV to monitor traffic coming to its annual industrial trade fair in the late 1950s, the first use of such systems to tackle crime, which is what we associate CCTV with today, began in the 1960s.

The UK became an early pioneer, when the Metropolitan Police used two temporary cameras in Trafalgar Square to monitor crowds who had come to see to the arrival of the Thai royal family.

The USA then set the pace, starting with the city of Olean, New York, which in 1968 became the first local authority to install video cameras along its main business street in an effort to fight crime. Olean’s example started a trend which would see several towns and cities across the USA adopt this new technology.

VCR- The Game Changer

A significant development in the history of CCTV occurred when video cassette recordings (VCRs) became widely available in the 1970s. This technology was quickly adopted and  incorporated into surveillance systems.

It was now no longer necessary for people to monitor the screens live. Instead, the systems could be set up and left to run independently. Users could then review what had been recorded at a later time. This made CCTV much more popular among businesses.

CCTV and the UK

CCTV has proven to be very popular amongst businesses, local authorities and police forces in the UK. The country’s citizens are amongst the most surveilled in the world. According to the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) there are between 4-5.9 million CCTV cameras in the country. There are 500,000 cameras in London alone, with some of most watched locations being:

Oxford Circus: 309 cameras
Green Park: 210 cameras
Bank/Monument: 182 cameras

It’s Not Big Brother!

Although the stereotypical image of the CCTV camera is that of one owned by the government (Big Brother is Watching You!), in reality the majority of cameras in the UK are  privately owned.

Why has CCTV Become so Popular?

Technical developments, such as the ability to record at night, digitisation and networking have helped broaden the appeal of the technology. But equally important has been the evidence that illustrates CCTV’s effectiveness in fighting crime.

For example, a 2009 review by researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Cambridge, which looked at over 40 different studies that  had researched the impact  of CCTV on crime levels, found that :

     CCTV caused a significant reduction of crime by on average 16 per cent
     The largest effects of CCTV were found in car parks, where cameras reduced crime by on average 51 per cent
     In  city and town centres CCTV schemes had 7 per cent reduction in crime and in public transport settings the reduction was 23 per cent

CCTV for Business
A recent study by the University of Leicester found what most businesses have realised for some time,  that CCTV is a great deterrent for pre-planned crime. It seems that criminals actively avoid stealing from premises that appear knowledgeable about crime and prevention.

Considering that the average burglary costs a business £1,376 per incident, it’s easy to understand why CCTV has become so popular and why so many businesses are willing to invest in it.

But There are Controversies

The expansion of CCTV, both in the UK and elsewhere, has not come without controversy. The idea of being constantly monitored, of the state being able to follow your every move has made some people wary and led others to suggest that we are heading towards a ‘surveillance society.’

There have also been concerns that the large amounts of cash spent on CCTV does not result in good value for money. Critics point out that the UK’s crime rate is not dissimilar to other, less surveillanced, countries and that the money invested in CCTV might be better spent on more police officers, local authority employees (park keepers, toilet attendants) or bus/train conductors.

The Future?

With new technology arriving, such as 4K, which can greatly enhance an image and lessen the number of cameras needed, it’s unlikely that we will see CCTV disappear from our streets any time soon. The UK fell in love with being watched and it's a romance that looks in no danger of fizzling out.

Devastation of Warehouse Fires from Above

Footage of the Drayton Fields Industial Warehouse taken from a drone shows the destruction fire can cause.