Prepare Your Business for Fire from the Outside, In
Fires are notorious for causing expensive damage to commercial facilities and structures. Routinely topping costs over one million dollars, it makes financial sense – as well as common sense – to prepare for fire damage and have a fire response plan to rely on if flames break out unexpectedly.
Commercial Fire Damage Preparation Tips
Many of the same actions for residential fire protection apply to commercial facilities:
- Prepare and maintain adequate firebreaks and green spaces surrounding your property in the event of a forest fire or neighboring structure conflagration.
- Consider installing fire glass in windows and doors, or have them glazed.
- Evaluate flues, chimneys, and any entry points that could allow sparks or embers to enter the facility, and install closures or shutters to reduce the risk.
As part of your fire response plan, you should clearly outline:
- Location of sprinkler shut off valves, so responders can locate as necessary and help prevent residual flooding.
- Areas or sections of the building(s) that can be secured to help prevent the spread of fire, and how responders can best access these points to manage containment.
- Locations of major HVAC, piping, gas, and water lines.
- Any additional vulnerable building components, like hazardous materials or compressed gasses – this is especially important for hospitals and medical facilities in order to contain volatile substances and protect against explosions or secondary damage.
- Keep emergency exits clear and marked.
Building codes likely require a sprinkler system for your commercial facility, but it’s important to routinely test these systems to keep them in good working order. Schedule a set time for these checks in your fire response plan, and use that time to test fire alarms and smoke detectors as well.
Preparing your facility for a fire is the best way to minimize damage and save on restoration costs. Having a plan in place will also give you the ability to react intelligently in a crisis.
About the Author: John Hogan
John is Direct of Safety at Interstate. With over 15 years' experience managing corporate safety programs, he specializes in developing industry leading safety processes and procedures to ensure the safety of employees, clients and the public on jobsites. John holds numerous professional certifications including OSHA 500 & 501 and Safety Management from the American Society of Safety Engineers.