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Do All Businesses Need Fire Suppression? 

Do All Businesses Need Fire Suppression? 

Posted 8/26/2022

Alt Title: Should All Business Owners Invest in Fire Suppression?

Some businesses strongly and clearly benefit from the installation of a fire suppression system. Automatically, these systems are capable of activating in response to a fire – and putting out the fire or stopping it in its tracks entirely.

But are these benefits universal? And should all businesses consider fire suppression a practical necessity?

Legal Requirements

First, let's address an important point: certain fire prevention and mitigation installations are legally required. Depending on the physical size of your business, the nature of your business, and the municipality in which your business resides, you'll probably be required to at least have a specific number of fire extinguishers available and a fire alarm system in place. You may face stricter requirements if you face greater fire risks, including a sprinkler or fire suppression system. Make sure you talk to a lawyer to fully understand your legal obligations here, as legal requirements vary.

Variables to Consider When Planning for Fire Suppression

Is fire suppression a practical necessity for your business?

Setting aside the legal considerations, these are some of the top factors to keep in mind when making your assessment:

·       Potential risk of a fire. How likely is it that your business will experience a fire? If your business is fully remote, you don't need to think about this at all; instead, you can turn your attention to fire mitigation in your own home. If your business is exclusively dedicated to manufacturing and distributing highly flammable chemicals, your fire risk is off the charts. Most businesses are somewhere in between.

You'll need to think about things like presence or absence of open flames, presence or absence of flammable chemicals, electrical wiring within your business, and the type of appliances or equipment you need to operate. You'll also need to consider fringe cases, like arson or lightning strikes, which are rare but still worth acknowledging.

A single fire has the potential to devastate your business, causing you incalculable physical losses and hurting the people in your business as well. Accordingly, even a relatively minor risk of fire should be taken seriously.

·       Class of fire risk. You also need to think about the class of fire that you might be forced to deal with. Different classes of fire have different points of origination and demand different fire suppression strategies. For example, if you're dealing with a grease fire, attempting to extinguish the fire with water is a bad idea; it's only going to make everything worse.

Small, contained fires are much easier to deal with on a case-by-case basis. If you have a fire extinguisher on hand and a person who knows how to use it, you probably don't need a bigger, more robust system. But anything smaller or less predictable than that is going to be best served with an automatic fire suppression system.

·       Building size. How big is the building you're dealing with? This is important to consider for a few different reasons. For starters, bigger buildings with greater square footage tend to be more valuable, meaning you stand to lose more if a fire breaks out. Also, bigger buildings require more of an investment in a fire suppression system; you have more area to cover, so you need your suppression agents to offer more coverage.

·       Property value. You should also consider the amount of property you have at stake. Part of this is going to be your building and the physical structures housing your business. The more valuable this is, the more you should think about getting a fire suppression system.

But you'll also need to think about the property within your business. How much money do you have sunk into your equipment? Do you have important servers with irreplaceable data on them (hopefully you have this backed up offsite)? Do you have significant electronic assets? How much would you stand to lose if a fire destroyed everything? A fire suppression system may not be able to save everything, but it becomes more valuable as the total value of your property increases. Obviously, a good fire insurance policy will afford you some significant protection here, but you shouldn't be relying on your fire insurance policy exclusively.

·       Employees, customers, and other humans. Obviously, you'll also need to think about your employees, your customers, and any other humans who might be on the premises. The more heavily populated your business is, the more vital a fire suppression system becomes. If your business is empty most of the time, populated by only a small handful of people who can easily escape at a moment’s notice, a fire suppression system is slightly less valuable.

By contrast, if your business is constantly packed with people, so much so that you’re pushing up against the occupancy limits routinely, you need a fire suppression system in place to prevent the possibility of harm or death. This is especially important if you're potentially concerned about liability issues.

·       Fire insurance. Your business should have fire insurance in place, regardless of whether you install a fire suppression system or not. But if you have no fire insurance, or if your fire insurance is extremely limited in its coverage, fire suppression becomes an even more important investment.

·       Fire alarms and immediate resources. What other fire mitigation resources are available in your business already? Do you have ample fire alarms installed? Do you have fire extinguishers? Are there plenty of escape routes for people trying to evacuate the building?

The benefits of fire suppression are so universal and so powerful that every business with physical property should consider a fire suppression system. However, some businesses need this type of system much more than others.

Is fire suppression an absolute necessity for your business? If you're not sure, or if you know you need fire suppression and you're not sure how to choose the right system, we are here to help. Contact us for a free consultation or a free quote today!