Can Your Business Survive a Fire? 4 Essential Questions to Consider.

In businesses and homes alike, fires are an ever-present danger. That’s why in recent months, we’ve highlighted six reasons why fire preparation is critical along with what the post-fire recovery process looks like. If you’ve read the other posts, you know that damage can be caused by more than just flames. Smoke and soot damage, even from small fires, can be far reaching. Water and other fire retardants used to extinguish a fire can also cause significant damage.

In this post, we highlight four important questions for your business to consider with respect to fire, along with some key details you should understand about your properties.

Is Your Business Prepared for a Fire? Here are 4 important questions to consider:
If you have basic fire protection measures in place and are complying with local fire code, you may assume your business is prepared for the worst. But prevention measures are only the first step in fire preparation. To really prepare for a business fire, it’s also important to think beyond prevention by asking yourself these questions:

1) How significant is the risk of fire to my business and how would a fire impact my property over the short and long term?
Understanding the risks and dangers to your property from a fire is the first step to creating a viable disaster recovery plan.

2) Do I have an adequate disaster recovery plan in place?
If you don’t have a solid disaster recovery plan in place, the chaos caused by a fire could be far greater. After all, if you don’t know who to call for help, or you haven’t identified things like where sensitive and important property or documents are located, you will be playing catch up from the moment the fire department turns the building back over to you. Our disaster recovery plan jump start template can help you put together a roadmap for responding to a fire or other disaster.

3) Are there gaps in my insurance policy?
As your business grows, your insurance coverage needs may change. So it’s important to periodically consider whether or not your policies are up-to-date.

4) Who will help me manage a crisis?
Responding to and recovering from a fire is a complex process. From ensuring life safety while the fire is happening, to securing the property and managing communications after the fact, each step of the process can have its own challenges. That’s why it’s important to establish and maintain a crisis management team that is ready to help navigate difficult circumstances.

Be Sure to Keep Track of Building Details
Once a fire is out, the sooner you can begin the recovery process, the better. You will be in a race against time to salvage recoverable documents and building contents. Smoke and soot damage only gets worse as time goes on, and documents and files start to deteriorate quickly after they are saturated with water from sprinklers or fire hoses.

A building information summary is a good way to help your emergency restoration provider plan an effective response and move as quickly as is safely possible once on site. Here are some details that should be included in a building information summary:

  • Contact information – note key insurance and disaster restoration contacts
  • Parking details – provide a map that highlights parking areas and building entrances
  • Amenities – track things like ENERGY STAR ratings and areas that have been recently upgraded or remodeled
  • HVAC details – gather specs and schematics for all heating and cooling units
  • Electrical details – summarize the building electrical system, noting system capacity, electrical feeds and electrical panel locations
  • Elevator and stairwell information – provide a map of stair and elevator locations, including details about the types of elevators and stairwells
  • Asbestos information – note any areas of the building or materials that may contain asbestos

Expect the Unexpected

No two fire situations are exactly alike so it can be challenging to know exactly what to expect when faced with one. Fortunately, having a plan in place and the right preparation can cut down on the unexpected as well as help reduce the impact and costs due to fire damage. Best of all, many of the preparations you make for a fire will also be useful in other disaster scenarios.