This week’s big news is another big fire (pg 3). Fletchers Bakeries, still owned by Northern Foods though up for sale, appears to have suffered “a catastrophic technical failure” in a processing plant, according to firefighters.

Thank goodness no staff were hurt and it sounds as though Northern Foods is handling the disaster very efficiently. But an insurance excess of £4m, which Northern is liable for, is bad news at this time – as is the lost production.

I remember two years ago when insurance costs for bakeries rose dramatically. We complained strongly to the insurance companies on your behalf, as did your trade associations.

Their response was to say that bakeries experienced an unusually high number of fires. Events since have sadly proved them right.

It is the bigger companies, Aulds, Warburtons, Peters of Durham, that tend to make the headlines. But fires happen in smaller companies too, so the second you stop reading this please plan a few minutes to review your fire prevention procedure. And also your disaster recovery strategy should a fire start (or be started!) at any time of day – or night.

Your trade associations and local fire service will be pleased to help. But it is vital you act soon because from 1 October the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order which has been delayed from April, comes into effect.

In recent issues (31 March, 2006, and 16 September, 2005) fire prevention consultant Alan Gill of AWG Fire, Health & Safety, explained the changes to the legislation. He also detailed risk factors and protective control measures.

I know many of you keep back issues, so I do urge you to look them up if you have any doubts about prevention and the forthcoming legislation because such factors could affect your insurance. In the meantime we wish Northern Foods and Fletchers good luck for the difficult weeks and months that lie ahead.

Elsewhere, British Bakeries is investing a whopping £20m across its Hovis range with a new logo, new packaging and a big advertising campaign, not to mention new recipes.

It is a major investment for a major brand that seems to go from strength to strength and stay ahead of the game.

And do read about Thorntons’ coffee shops paging system. Is this the ‘sound’ of things to come?