An evaluation of the fire threats and risks at industrial and commercial sites is an essential action for facility managers as they seek to safeguard their people, properties and finances. 

When it comes to addressing potential fire risks, many businesses take an indifferent approach in the belief that “it will never happen to us”.

Unfortunately, fires can and do devastate some industrial and commercial properties. In addition to fire damage itself, the shutdown of a fire-ravaged business for an extended period can lead to its permanent demise.

As a guide, data from the Fire Protection Association (FPA) in the United Kingdom reveals the significant financial impact that fires can have on businesses. The FPA’s analysis of 4782 major UK fires between January 2009 and December 2019 – where the financial loss was £100,000 ($190,000) or more – found that the mean average loss was £657,074 ($1.24 million) per incident.

The losses included damage to buildings, interruption to business or services, harm to machinery and plant equipment, and loss of stock. It is safe to assume that Australian businesses pay a similarly high price for fire events.

Such figures underline the importance of conducting rigorous fire-risk assessments at industrial and commercial sites, including bringing in fire-suppression experts to advise on the types of fire extinguishers that should be deployed if a blaze occurs. 

How it works

A fire-risk assessment involves a detailed review and evaluation of a building or a facility for fire risks, along with advice on how to either eliminate the risk or mitigate it.

Without such an analysis, any fire-prevention methods will simply be guess work and may not provide adequate protection for properties. These risk assessments broadly cover:

  • identification of fire hazards and possible sources of ignition at a site
  • consideration of the performance of any existing fire-detection and fire-suppression systems
  • communication and documentation of any suggestions to limit future fire risks
  • delivery of advice on fire-safety training and the education of a business’s fire wardens.

Specific factors to consider as part of a fire-risk assessment include:

  • emergency exit routes and emergency lighting, and fire doors
  • fire-detection and warning systems such as fire alarms and smoke detectors
  • equipment such as fire extinguishers, hose reels and water-supply infrastructure
  • emergency fire-evacuation plans
  • measures in the event of a fire to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly, children and those with a disability.

Properly carried out by experienced fire-prevention specialists, these fire-risk assessments can provide a clear picture of current fire threats and deliver an action plan for businesses to take as they seek to safeguard their assets well into the future. 

On the money

As well as providing property security, an extensive fire-risk assessment can also be a valuable financial move for a business.

The relatively small impost of such a test could potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions of dollars, if it prevents a fire. The truth is that many businesses which fail to prepare for fire risks are unlikely to ever recover from a serious fire.

Facility owners and managers may also find that their insurance premiums are reduced substantially if the business has a credible fire-safety plan. In an effort to safeguard their own interests, insurers often take a rigid stance before agreeing to cover enterprises for potential fire and business-interruption losses.

So the upshot is that a detailed fire-risk assessment and subsequent integrated fire-protection systems are likely to result in lower insurance costs.

Importantly, however, businesses should not go with just any fire-risk assessment provider. Make sure that the tests are carried out by trained technicians who have a proven record in fire-prevention and fire-suppression strategies.

They can then advise on appropriate fire-fighting systems – and ensure that you can sleep soundly at night knowing that you have done everything possible to keep your people and property safe.

Fire-risk assessments should be left to the experts. So schedule a call with one of our sales consultants. 

ALSO READ: How planning and the right fire-suppression systems can protect construction sites

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