Do empty buildings need a fire risk assessment?

21 December 2022

We know that fire risk assessments are a legal requirement for all commercial properties. But what about empty or vacant buildings? 

If you think that just because your building is empty that fire safety, and in particular fire risk assessments, is no longer a concern, you’d be very wrong.

Despite the fact that the building is empty, the same legal obligations apply for an empty building as an occupied one and that responsibility is with the present owner until another takes over.

Fire risks in empty buildings

Every year many unoccupied properties fall victim to fire damage. While you might think that the risk of fire is significantly less than buildings that are bustling with people, equipment and activity, the reason vacant properties pose fire risks is because of the lack of activity, checks and active presence on the site. This can allow problems to develop out of control.

Two of the main fire risks associated with vacant buildings are:

1. Pests

With a lack of human activity, pests can move in, go unnoticed and run rampage. These pests can cause all manner of issues such as chewing through wires and causing electrical fires.

2. Arson 

Unfortunately, vandals can be attracted to the prospect of an empty property and arson is one of the major concerns of building owners with vacant properties. Arsonists often believe setting an empty building alight is better than burning down an occupied property so it’s important to have safety measures in place to both reduce the risk of arson and minimise damage should a fire start.

Temporary vacant buildings

We’ve mostly been talking about buildings that stand vacant for long periods of time but buildings that are temporarily empty, such as offices closed for Christmas, are also at risk of fire damage. These buildings, along with places like shops, restaurants or even factories, can be devoid of people but still contain equipment which may pose a fire risk if left unattended. If you’re closing down a building for Christmas, you’ll need to take steps to minimise the risk of fire, such as making sure all electrical equipment is turned off.

If you are the owner of an empty commercial building, whether it’s an office block, a factory or any other business premises, then the fire safety in that building is your responsibility, and that includes fire risk assessments. For help with your fire risk assessments or to take advantage of our fire risk consultancy service, contact us at Total Fire Group.


We offer our clients a complete fire safety management service, our key services include:

Fire Risk Assessments

Delivering a comprehensive and detailed report on your property.

Fire Safety Consultancy

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Fire Risk Management Software

Manage multiple risk assessment actions with our Aurora software.

Fire Safety Training

Our fire safety training courses cover every level of fire safety, from basic through to advanced.