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Grace under fire

Friday, June 27, 2014 8:48 AM | Deleted user

Minnesota might be experiencing its wettest year since 1871, but that’s no reason to get complacent about the real threat of fire damage. We might be underwater now, but it’s still a good time to discuss how to prepare for a potential fire.

Flammable material

If you have flammable or combustible materials, make sure they are stored in the proper containers. Keep these materials away from exits to the building. If they do combust, you do not want fire blocking exits. These materials should also be stored in an area where you have good sprinklers to quickly contain any fires that might occur.

Fire alarms

In the event of a fire, communication is key. Quickly alerting employees of the need to evacuate or respond to a fire will save lives and possibly your building. Make sure you have enough alarms in the right places throughout your business. If you’ve changed the layout of your business or how the space is used, it’s a good idea to reevaluate your alarm placements. You should have your alarms tested annually at the very least.

Sprinkler systems

If you can’t stop the fire from starting, a good sprinkler system can stop the fire from spreading. Sprinkler systems have been used to suppress fires as far back as the mid 1800s and modern sprinkler systems come with 3D technology for detecting and responding to fires. To effectively suppress fire and save lives, sprinkler systems need to be properly installed and maintained. Test your system regularly to ensure it’s working properly.

Store records offsite

To avoid unnecessary downtime, backed up records should be stored offsite in a place where they can be easily retrieved if needed. For essential documents stored onsite, consider putting them in fireproof containers near sprinklers.

Fire insurance

Your property insurance policy probably does cover you in the case of fire, but it’s probably also a broad form policy that covers a variety of perils. It’s important to understand how much your policy really does cover if there’s a fire so you can increase coverage specifically for fires if need be. Businesses may be inclined to keep insurance premiums low and not add on additional coverage; just keep in mind that a fire could destroy an entire building and everything in it. It’s a good idea to insure for the value of the whole business.

A few things you should be sure to consider when insuring against fires:

• Cost of downtime for the business to relocate
• The cost of replacing expensive long-life equipment and computers
• Cost of rebuilding with updated building codes

If a fire destroys your business, the cost of replacing old equipment with new is likely to be much greater than the value of your current equipment. Make sure you review your policy frequently and understand what it will cost to replace at changing prices above and beyond the value of what you currently own.

Fires can destroy buildings quickly, and businesses. As always, being prepared will help you recover quickly and keep your business running despite disaster. Experiencing a fire can be a scary and devastating event, don’t let it also put you out of business.

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