In recent years, the food industry has experienced a surge in significant losses due to fire incidents, impacting manufacturers ranging from meat processing plants to bakery product manufacturers.


These incidents have a significant impact on the activity of the client for months and years. It takes a long time to have replacement equipment delivered, to rebuild or repair the building and to obtain the proper regulatory approvals.

One key factor contributing to the severity of fire-related losses in the food industry is the use of combustible sandwich panels to partition the space inside the production hall. Once a fire starts, it spreads very quickly throughout the plant.

“Rapid detection is imperative to minimize losses. For instance, delays in notifying the fire brigade can significantly increase the scale of the damages, as seen in the case where one of our clients took nearly 15 minutes to alert authorities, leading to increased claims. This is why our recommendation is to have the smoke detectors or other detection systems automatically linked to the nearby fire brigade or very clear internal procedures to notify the fire brigade as quickly as possible, without hesitation.” Radu Ionescu, Risk Engineer Colonnade Romania

The causes of these fires are often rooted in electrical systems or inherent risks associated with the industry's operational processes. What has exacerbated these risks in recent times is the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintenance schedules were disrupted for nearly two years and now, after the pandemic, factories are operating at maximum capacity, subjecting equipment to unprecedented stress levels.

Local legislations usually mandate the presence of on-site fire teams in factories. However, these volunteers are often hesitant to intervene and try to put out the fire, preferring instead to evacuate the building and wait for the public brigade. This delay often results in larger, more challenging fires.

In response to these issues, industry experts advocate for proactive measures to enhance factory resilience:

  • Increase distances (space separation) between various equipment or install fire barriers around the most dangerous equipment. Reduce the use of combustible panels, where possible.
  • Adequate sprinkler system that automatically detects the fire and triggers quick activation in the area affected. The sprinkler system should be designed taking into account the activity inside, the size and composition of the building and should undergo maintenance periodically.

Insurance companies with dedicated risk engineers, such as those at Colonnade, play a crucial role in advising clients on resilient design and maintenance protocols. These experts collaborate with clients to optimize factory layouts, recommending improvements that minimize fire risks and enhance response capabilities.

In conclusion, by prioritizing resilient design, investing in effective fire protection systems and engaging with experienced risk engineers, food industry stakeholders can mitigate fire-related risks and safeguard against substantial losses. Through collaboration and foresight, we can cultivate a safer, more sustainable future for the food industry.

Adrian Jurubita