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Fire Prevention Week (October 4 – 10) is a time for businesses to assess their properties to determine how vulnerable they may be to fire coming from both outside and inside. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), this weeklong observance was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire that occurred in 1871. That fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on October 8, and continued into October 9, 1871. Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed on the Sunday through Saturday period in which October 9 falls.
The Tampa, FL-based Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offers information on what businesses can do to evaluate the vulnerability of their facilities.
“Along with making sure that traditional items like smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are working properly, it is important that property owners and managers also consider fire risks that are unique to where they live and work,” explains Julie Rochman, president and CEO, IBHS.
Today in California and Arizona, firefighters continue to battle wildfires, and as always, face challenges with regard to protecting the structures in harm’s way. “We want to make sure that citizens of California, Arizona, and the other 36 states with wildland fire exposure know that there is valuable, free information available to them that will help keep their property safe,” Rochman says.
To that end, IBHS offers regionally specific wildfire protection guides to help business owners (and homeowners) better prepare and take control when it comes to protecting their property against wildfires.
“For example, residents and business owners in wildfire prone areas should keep landscaping and yard structures (e.g., play sets, trellises, and wood piles) at least 30 feet from their buildings. Maintaining clean gutters and removing dead foliage from areas close to buildings also are easy but important wildfire protection steps,” says Rochman.
Facility managers can download the free, regionally appropriate copies of the IBHS Wildfire Property Protection Retrofit Guides here. Regions are Central U.S.; Florida; Great Lakes; Mid-Atlantic/Northeast; Pacific Northwest; Rocky Mountain; Southeast; Southern California; and Southwest.
Electrical Fires Another Threat
Another fire safety issue IBHS highlights is the prevention of electrical fires.
“Electrical fires consistently rank among the top five causes of commercial building fires,” says Rochman. “Preparation, safety, employee training, and continuous education are the most important practices a business owner can undertake to help minimize potential losses related to electrical safety and maintenance.”
Facility managers can access information on commercial electrical safety on the IBHS Web site to learn more about how to reduce the risk of electrical fires by recognizing the warning signs, following operational requirements, and using the right materials.
IBHS is an independent, non-profit, scientific, and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.