Fire Prevention Week 2021 will take place October 3-9 and in preparation, QBE North America offers tips to help businesses prevent fires and mitigate losses if a fire does occur. Firefighters in the U.S. respond to a fire every 24 seconds, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and as more people return to physical places of business and offices, these reminders can help keep them safe.
“A fire is one of the most devastating events to happen to a business, so it’s always a good time to prepare for one,” said Robert Tull, AVP Risk Solutions, QBE North America. “Companies have undergone significant challenges and changes in the last year, so revisiting your processes and plans for a catastrophic event like a fire is of utmost importance.”
First and foremost, properly managed and maintained fire protection systems are critical to safeguarding facilities against catastrophic destruction. When a fire protection or detection system is shut down or “impaired,” whether planned or unplanned, the ability to withstand and contain a fire is severely diminished. This is when a business facility is most vulnerable to damage and disruption.
Properly maintaining fire protection systems means planning for impairments, or downtime for inspection and testing. Precautions must be taken to provide temporary protection, reduce hazards and ensure prompt restoration. Here are some key actions QBE’s Risk Solutions team urges businesses to take before, during, and after an impairment:
- Plan for an impairment by performing a detailed risk assessment and ensure local and nearby hazards can be protected, contained, or eliminated.
- Make sure you have the right materials and people on hand before the impairment begins to minimize the shut-down period.
- Notify key people in Operations, Emergency Response Teams, and the local Fire and Rescue Services (if appropriate) as well as your remote alarm monitoring station.
- Hang “Out of Service” tags on equipment that is or will be impaired.
- Keep a watchful eye for fire hazards arising in or close to the area where the fire control equipment is impaired.
- Ensure employees and contractors know that the fire control is impaired and prevent them from performing unnecessary hazardous activities. Halt hazardous production processes and prohibit “hot work” in the area.
- Work on the job continuously until completed, if possible. If it must be left overnight, ensure security patrols the area and other precautions are maintained.
Restoration Upon Completion
- When the impaired fire control equipment is restored, inspect the area and witness a performance test or sprinkler alarm test to verify that it has been properly returned to service.
- Re-lock valves, reset control panels, and inform your remote monitoring station.
- Remove the “Out of Service” tags from functioning equipment.
Businesses should also check in with their insurer as soon as possible after an emergency or unplanned impairment, or in advance of a planned impairment. As part of its fire prevention toolkit, QBE offers a Fire Safety Inspection Checklist, as performing routine fire safety inspections is an integral part of an effective fire prevention and control plan. QBE Risk Solutions also offers a variety of additional tools and tips to help businesses prevent fires in the workplace. You can download the QBE Fire Safety Inspection Checklist here.