Small businesses face unique challenges when natural disasters strike. As wildfires have burned a record-breaking four million acres in California already this year, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has released Wildfire Ready–Business, a new preparedness guide designed specifically to help small business and commercial building owners better understand the risk and prepare for wildfires by making their properties more wildfire-resistant.
Like a home, a commercial building is a system with multiple vulnerabilities so no single action alone will significantly reduce the risk of a wildfire ignition. Wildfire Ready–Business lays out areas of vulnerability unique to commercial properties and the critical actions that must be addressed first to appreciably lower related wildfire risk. It then takes small business and commercial property owners and managers through additional improvements to tackle as time and budget permit.
“Representing 99.9 percent of all U.S. businesses, small businesses are the economic engine of our communities; we simply can’t bounce back after a natural disaster without their vitality. Wildfire Ready–Business leads businesses down the path of resilience by showing the building improvements that are most critical to meaningfully reduce risk when wildfire threatens to disrupt operations and destroy valuable assets,” said Chuck Miccolis, managing director of Commercial Lines at IBHS. “By prioritizing these actions,small business and commercial property owners can limit the impact of wildfires, allowing them to reopen more quickly in the aftermath of a disaster.”
The guide provides progressive actions to take — coupled with vigilant ongoing maintenance and debris removal recommendations — to build resilience to wildfire. Actions are clearly outlined as Start Here, Keep Going, Level Up, and Go the Last Mile.
The Start Here guidance includes:
- Ensuring the commercial building has a fire-rated roof
- Clearing debris from the roof and gutters
- Creating a 0-5-foot buffer around the building
- Adding or upgrading vent screens
- Removing items stored beneath decks, balconies, or wooden walkways
“Wildfire Ready–Business can help local businesses that are vital to our communities. From coffee shops and local restaurants to doctors’ offices and small strip malls, the guide is applicable to the small businesses that serve our communities,” Miccolis added.
The guide applies the latest wildfire research from IBHS in conjunction with insights from the fire protection community to reduce the impact of wildfires on communities.
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