Jul 2002

Protection for Idle Plants

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A facility can be idle for many reasons, such as annual shutdowns, labor strikes and building renovations. When a facility is idle there is a high risk for potential loss.

During a recent four-year period, a major insurance company suffered 411 idle plant losses for $91 million. Accounting for most of the loss was fire (including arson), which accounted for $50 million of the $91 million in losses. Other threats include theft, electrical breakdowns, freeze-ups, flooding and wind damage. Vacant and idle facilities require as much, if not more attention than active facilities. The following guidelines can help you protect your vacant or idle facility.

Fire – Always Keep Sprinkler Systems in Operation!

– Inspect sprinkler control valves (make sure they are locked in the open position), fire extinguishers and all other fire protection equipment weekly.

– Test all fire protection system alarms (sprinkler control valve and water flow alarms) quarterly to ensure they are still operative.

– Notify Risk Logic when the sprinkler system is out of service and follow the Fire Protection Impairment system procedure.

Remove Unnecessary Combustibles

– Remove any debris or other combustibles within 25 ft. of the building.

– Keep all weeds, brush etc. cleared from around building.

– Remove all waste materials such as trash, cardboard or anything else left behind.

Relocate all Flammable Liquids Off Site and Turn Off Electrical Equipment

– Secure any utilities that are not in service.

– All flammable liquid tanks should be drained and secure (by removing them or filling them with sand or concrete).

Monitor Hot Work Operations

– Carefully monitor the removal of any machinery and equipment.

– Use Risk Logic’s Hot Work Permit System for any brazing, cutting, grinding, soldering and welding.

Invite the Fire Department to Tour the Facility

– Know what will happen in the event of a fire by conducting a planning session to coordinate emergency action.

– Be sure the fire department is familiar with all sprinklers and alarms that will be kept running.

– The fire department should have easy access or a key to the facility. They should also know where to meet on-site security staff when responding to an emergency.

– If there is no on-site security, be sure that the fire department has someone to contact in the event of an emergency.

Arson/Vandalism – Strengthen Security


– Increase watch service.

– Increase exterior lighting and install motion sensitive lights.

– Eliminate combustible storage and if possible, put fencing around any storage areas.

– Make frequent unscheduled rounds.

– Check entrance point daily to look for signs of break-ins.

– Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed so the building can be easily observed.

– Do a perimeter check every night to be sure that the facility is secure.


– Provide additional locks for all entries to the facility (windows, doors, gates).

– Keep a current list of all individuals who have access to keys and periodically change locks.


– Keep boilers operating to prevent fire protection equipment from freezing.

– Convert sprinkler systems to dry-pipe systems if building heat is not provided, or convert to non-freeze systems for all small-unheated areas.

If you take these steps you can help ensure that your vacant or idle plants are protected. Be sure to work with Risk Logic to determine where you are at risk, or to develop additional loss prevention advice specific to your facility.