more reading on..... Avoiding fire losses

Avoiding fire losses

Taking the necessary precautions can help prevent your property from going up in flames

One of the best ways to minimise the chances of fire is to instill good housekeeping habits among employees 

It was a wise person who said that it is better to be safe than sorry. Although you may have comprehensive insurance to cover your losses in case a fire occurs, it is always better to adopt preventive measures to stop a fire from occuring in the first place.

This is because the insurance is confined to reimbursement of financial loss only but not intangible things such as valuable information or years of research. For example, you may be compensated for the loss of your computers but the loss of the files stored within them would be irrecoverable and cannot be replaced. The firm may also be compensated for the loss of earnings if it has a business interruption policy but the loss of time in servicing clients, who would most likely want the products or services as soon as possible, could cause long term damage if they decide to do business with a competitor while the firm is rebuilding.

To prevent - or at least minimise - the chances of a fire, insurers generally advise that some preventive measures be taken.

Minimising the chances of a fire

A fire can start in any number of ways, such as faulty electrical wiring, unsafe storage of flammable materials, inadequate ventilation, arson or human error. Fortunately, most of these causes can be addressed or their effect minimised. Here are some areas you can look into:

Fire Prevention Systems

The first thing that can be done to prevent a fire is to find an insurer you can work with, possibly even before your business premises are built. Look for an insurer who can also advise on fire prevention measures. Some insurers offer these advisory services for free, as a value-added service with the insurance packages. An experienced insurer would also be able to advise on the sort of preventive measures that could be installed in the building.

Whatever you do, be sure to adhere to regulations; an existing building, especially a highrise one, would already have some built-in fire prevention features if it has been constructed according to prevailing fire department regulations. However, official standards are generally the minimum requirement and insurers would be happier if they work together with the builder to ensure a building is fire-safe. 

Fire-resistant materials

Whether in an office or a factory, you should strive to ensure that the construction materials used are as fire-resistant as possible. Fire insurance policies become more expensive the less fire-resistant the construction materials are.


You should ensure that there are fire extinguishers readily available at accessible areas in the factory or building. They should be inspected regularly to ensure that they work.

Sprinkler Systems

The next thing to do would be to ensure that there is a proper sprinkler system installed in the building. However, sprinkler systems are only efficient if there is adequate water supply.

Proper Waste Management

If your business is a manufacturing concern, you should ensure that there are proper procedures for the collection and disposal of waste, especially if the company has to deal with hazardous wastes. In such a case, it would be advisable to have a waste disposal area that is well-ventilated and preferably, away from the main building.

Storage of combustible materials

Products or raw materials that are combustible should ideally be kept in storage areas that are away from the main building. The inconvenience of having to fetch and carry the materials is infinitely more preferable to everything going up in flames, isn't it?

Periodic electrical checks

As a high percentage of fires are due to electrical problems, it also pays to ensure that periodic and proper maintenance checks of the electrical systems for both the building and equipment are carried out regularly.

Human element

Your company management can install the best fire fighting systems money can buy, but remember that one of the most valuable factors in preventing or minimising the causes of a fire is the human element. Insurers generally advise their clients to instill good housekeeping habits in their employees, such as not smoking on the premises or smoking only in designated areas, and keeping the proliferation of flammable materials to a minimum.

To further minimise risk, the areas around large heat-generating equipment should be clear of any debris to prevent any accidental ignition of combustible materials. But the most important thing to do would be to keep all fire exits or escape routes well marked. This way, if the fire cannot be prevented or controlled, there would at least be minimal loss of life.

According to fire department investigations, a large number of fires in the workplace have suspicious causes. They could have been set intentionally by vandals, disgruntled employees or burglars attempting to cover their tracks. Preventive steps to reduce the potential for arson range from the relatively simple to the elaborate. But much of it, again, depends on the human element.

One of the simplest yet most effective steps to prevent arson would be to stay alert, either for strangers on the premises or disgruntled employees, and to prevent them from being in areas they have no business to be in.

It would also be advisable to instill good habits in employees such as locking up and double-checking the locks to the entrances if they are the last ones to leave for the day.

Finally, just to be on the safe side, there should also be round-the-clock security patrols. This would also help in preventing burglaries.  

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^ Article extracted from NST Property Times - Signed&Safe


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