This fire occurred last Thursday in Sydney at a construction site involving plastic covering on some scaffolds. The picture shows bright orange flames rising six storeys high in front of an office building. The fire was big enough to cause the evacuation of occupants from nearby buildings.
Could it have caused more severe damage than that? Yes, if the radiant heat generated is high enough to start a major fire in that adjacent building, giving rise to a chain reaction.
As risk managers do we have to be concerned with such a scenario, even though the threat is present only for a limited period of time which is when the plastic covering is on the scaffolds? The answer is a big Yes, as long as it is a threat. The major lesson to draw from this incident is that the threats you face everyday are never static. Changes in your environment can sometimes bring about high-impact changes to your threat profile. And only an experienced risk manager can detect such changes.
INSPIRO Fire & Crisis Pte Ltd is a fire, emergency and crisis consultancy firm incorporated in Singapore.