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
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.
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
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
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
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?
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.
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
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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extracted from NST Property Times - Signed&Safe