Alt Title: X Ways to Tell If Your Business Is Prepared for a Fire
Do you know if your business is thoroughly prepared for a fire? If your building caught fire tomorrow, would you know how to handle it? These are tough questions for most business owners to answer. But in this article, we’ll help you answer those questions – and figure out what to do if you’re not as prepared for a fire as you should be.
The Value of Fire Preparation
A fire is one of the most destructive events a business can experience. Property destruction, smoke and soot damage, water damage, and even odor removal are all very expensive – and if someone is hurt or killed in a fire on your property, you might never forgive yourself.
Fire preparation is important because it addresses fires in three key ways:
· Fire prevention. The most effective way to plan for a fire is to prevent fire from ever emerging. If your fire prevention strategy is thorough enough, you'll never have to worry about experiencing a fire in your organization. All the costs associated with the fire become mostly irrelevant.
· Fire mitigation. That said, even with excellent fire prevention protections, there are certain variables you can't control – including natural disasters and malicious intent. Accordingly, you need to have some elements of fire mitigation in place. If a fire does break out in your organization, how are you going to prevent it from spreading?
· Fire responsiveness. Fire responsiveness is also important. If and when a fire breaks out, what are your team members and customers supposed to do? Is someone on your staff responsible for contacting emergency services? Do you have alarms in place? Do you have an emergency response plan in place?
Signs Your Business Is Prepared for a Fire
These are some of the signs that your business truly is prepared for a fire.
1. You know the biggest risks. OSHA has fire prevention guidelines for different types of businesses in different industries. Every business is going to have a different fire risk profile, dealing with different types of hazards and different environmental conditions. What's truly important is that you understand what the biggest risks to your business are and you know how to handle them. If you can confidently assess the biggest fire risks facing your business, you'll be in a much better position to prevent fires and respond to fires that break out.
2. You have a documented plan in place. Do you have a documented strategy for fire prevention, mitigation, and responsiveness? If not, take it as a worrying sign that you’re underprepared. Every business should have formally documented guidelines in place for how they handle potential threats and emergencies.
3. You have a fire alarm. One of the most common strategies for fire preparedness is installing some kind of fire alarm or smoke alarm. This system should be designed to automatically detect signs of a fire and respond appropriately with loud noises and bright lights. There should also be an option for people within the building to manually trigger an alarm when necessary.
4. You have a fire suppression system. If you want to take your fire preparedness strategy a step further, you should have a fire suppression system in place. Fire suppression systems are designed to deploy automatically, coating the area with dry chemicals or clean agents (or both) to stop the fire in its tracks, or at least prevent it from spreading. These systems are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, so there's no reason not to have one.
5. You have a public escape/emergency plan. Does your business have a public escape plan in place? If there's a fire in the main part of the building, how do people get out? What are the alternative routes? Do you have maps and guides posted publicly to help people find these routes in a genuine emergency? Are your employees also familiar with these routes?
6. Your employees are trained and educated. Speaking of employees, are your employees formally trained and educated on fire safety? Are they familiar with the biggest fire hazards in your organization and how to prevent fires reliably? Do they know how to use your fire safety equipment and how to respond to a fire in progress? You can’t afford to skimp on training and education here.
7. You have a fire insurance policy. Every business should have a fire insurance policy in place. Many property insurance policies have elements to cover fire damage, but this isn't a guarantee; double-check your policy to make sure you're covered for property damage and liability in the event of a fire.
8. You’re banking an insurance discount. Most insurance companies are willing to extend a discount to businesses that have adequate fire prevention and mitigation elements in place. For example, are you banking an insurance discount because you have a fire suppression system?
9. You clean, test, and maintain your equipment. Don't trust that all your equipment is going to remain permanently viable. Your smoke alarms and fire detection equipment should be tested and maintained regularly. Your fire suppression systems should be tested and maintained every few years.
10. You conduct occasional drills. It's also a good idea for businesses to conduct occasional drills, simulating a fire to make sure everyone knows what to do and how to act. Try to conduct these at least once per year – and potentially more often.
What If You Aren’t Prepared?
So what if you aren't prepared for a fire? What if you don't have the policies, procedures, and equipment in place necessary to prevent and mitigate fires in your business?
Your first step is to conduct an audit. If you've followed this guide, you've already conducted a soft audit; at this point, it's important to dive a bit deeper and thoroughly document your needs as well as various components missing from your fire preparedness plan.
From there, start making upgrades one at a time. One of the best investments you can make for your business on this front is a fire suppression system. With the right fire suppression system, you can eliminate most fires immediately and prevent major fires from spreading. Check out our selection of fire suppression systems for yourself, or contact us today for more information and a free quote!