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Whether caused by flammable materials, arson or mother nature, fire can pose a devastating threat to your commercial property.

Knowing the risks and having a fire prevention plan can make the difference between continuing business operations and financial collapse.

Common Fire Risks Facing Businesses

  • Hot work: Work such as brazing, cutting, grinding, open-flame soldering, welding, and torching all fall under the term “hot work” and can ignite combustibles with disastrous results. Hot work operations introduce a variety of potential ignition sources that require strict supervision.
  • Ignitable liquids: Fuels, solvents, thinners, cleaners, adhesives, paints, waxes, and polishes — common in many industrial facilities — are often flammable or combustible.
  • Intentional fires: Deliberately set fires, also known as arson, are often costlier than accidental fires. This can be due to the business location being unoccupied at the time, the arsonist using several points of ignition, the deliberate impairment of fire alarms and sprinkler systems, or by the fire being accelerated by flammable liquids or other agents.
fire extinguisher check

Fire Mitigation for Businesses

Fire threats are omnipresent for business owners, but technology, training, and preparedness can help lessen the loss associated with fires. Consider the following when developing a fire prevention plan:

1. Install and maintain a fire detection system: Modern technology can help prevent fires or limit the destruction caused by an ensuing fire so make sure to find the right system for your business:

  • Local alarm systems notify building occupants through the notification appliances.
  • Proprietary alarm systems are monitored at a constantly attended location within the facility where the system is located.
  • Remote supervising stations provide monitoring at a constantly attended location under the control of the building owner at a location separate from the facility.
  • Central stations provide reliable monitoring using a third-party company to monitor alarm and notify the proper authorities.

2. Manage hot work hazards: Preventing hot work fires requires careful implementation and enforcement of a written Hot Work Safety Program. Management should designate a hot work Permit Authorizing Individual (PAI), who is trained in hot work safety measures and is responsible for issuing permits. 

3. Pre-fire planning or Emergency Response Plan (ERP): 
Good pre-fire planning or ERP gives the fire department better situational awareness as they can refer to your plan at the time of an emergency. To create a best-in-class ERP:

  • Provide the fire department with detailed information about the business property. This will aid them in conducting their firefighting operations, especially if protective gear or equipment is necessary for fighting fire. Include: floor plans; aerial photographs of the property; the number of occupants; information on electrical, gas and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems; information on sprinkler and fire alarm systems; a list of hazardous materials in the building; and key holder or responsible party contact information.
  • Hold routine fire drills to ensure that occupants know how to evacuate the building quickly and safely.
  • Identify equipment that needs to be shut down in order to limit damage if there is a fire. Building owners should share this information with the fire department to enable prompt and targeted action in an emergency situation.

4. Business continuity planning: A business continuity plan provides a framework for returning to normalcy following a disaster. It is a key tool in protecting business revenues, your company's reputation, recovery costs, and even people’s lives. Make sure your plan includes emergency response procedures for fires.


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