Wildfire Preparedness: Protecting Your Property and Business

Wildfires pose a significant threat to both land and infrastructure annually. Business owners face not only direct fire damage, but also potential smoke, water damage, and income loss due to evacuation orders.

As urban areas encroach further into forested regions, the risk of damage escalates. However, proactive steps can be taken to safeguard property and minimize potential harm.

A commercial insurance broker plays a pivotal role in safeguarding businesses, particularly during the volatile wildfire season. These professionals are adept at tailoring insurance policies to address the unique risks associated with wildfires. They work closely with businesses to assess their specific needs, ensuring they have adequate coverage in place.

Before a Wildfire Event

Building Design

  • Utilize fire-resistant materials for roof coverings.
  • Install fire and corrosion-resistant screens on roof vents.
  • Ensure exterior openings, including windows and doors, have at least a 20-minute fire resistance rating.
  • Overhangs, eaves, and balconies should have a minimum one-hour fire resistance rating.
  • Fit chimneys and vents with spark arrestors to prevent embers and sparks from entering.

Best Practices for Pre-Wildfire Season

A. Fuel Reduction Area:

  • Establish a fuel reduction area or safety zone to shield your property.
  • Maintain a 10 m (33 ft) separation between buildings, vehicles, fuel tanks, outdoor storage areas, and grassy or wooded zones.
  • Clear dry or dead vegetation within 15 m (50 ft) of buildings (60 m or 200 ft for buildings on slopes).
  • Trim tree branches a minimum of 2 m (6 ft) from the ground.

B. Property Access:

  • Ensure driveways and access roads are well-maintained, adequately sized, and properly graded.
  • Design roads and parking areas to accommodate fire department vehicles.

C. Safe Fire Practices:

  • Store combustible and flammable materials at a safe distance from buildings, fences, and vehicles.
  • Use approved containers for storing combustible and flammable liquids.
  • If on a slope, store materials laterally to the building.

D. Develop a Wildfire Plan:

  • Create a written wildfire response plan accessible to all employees.
  • Conduct regular discussions and drills to ensure staff know how to respond during a wildfire event.
  • Familiarize with evacuation routes and establish data backup measures.
  • Consider an alternative location for business operations during wildfires.

During a Wildfire Event

During a wildfire event, it’s crucial to stay informed through local news updates and follow instructions from local authorities. Take advantage of government resources to get timely updates on the fire situation. Be prepared for evacuation and maintain open communication with staff, customers, and suppliers.

Ensure your safety by closing windows and doors to limit exposure to smoke and dust. If permitted, dampen the roof and property to provide an extra layer of protection. These proactive measures can significantly enhance your safety and the safety of your property during a wildfire.

During a Wildfire Evacuation:

  • Keep an emergency kit with essential documents and contact information
  • Follow the evacuation plan and stay informed via local radio.
  • Contact your commercial insurance broker for advice and inform stakeholders of potential disruptions.

After a Wildfire Event

Returning to Your Business:

  • Gather basic supplies for safety and assessment.
  • Inspect the perimeter for hazards and contact relevant authorities if necessary.
  • Assess the damage and consult with your commercial insurance broker.
  • Ensure site safety before resuming operations.
  • Clean air intake units before use.
  • Salvage salvageable goods.
  • Document damage before cleanup.

By following these preparedness measures, businesses can significantly improve their chances of survival during a wildfire event. Staying informed, having a clear plan, and taking proactive steps can make a crucial difference in protecting property and assets.

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