How a Fire Affects a Business discussed by Elite Fire & Security
A fire in a business can be devastating in so many ways for you, your team, your customers and the overall running of your business, as well as being a threat to lives and serious injury, both physically and mentally. Our ‘How a Fire Affects a Business’ article goes into detail around the effects and the importance of having the correct fire systems and processes in place to prevent a fire.
Many fires in a workplace or a commercial property can be avoided by taking the steps to prevent fires, minimise it if one breaks out and by having effective systems, controls and processes in place for the people inside the property to safely evacuate and ensure the emergency services are called quickly to prevent the fire from spreading.
It is known that there are nearly twenty thousand commercial fires in the UK every year and it costs UK businesses millions of pounds, from damage to property, loss of business, fines, compensation claims and increased insurance premiums and this highlights the importance of being fire safe within your business. You have a legal responsibility as a commercial property or business owner and these responsibilities should always be taken seriously. We would recommend that your businesses ‘Responsible Person’ use a reputable and professional Fire Safety Specialist to help support and deliver your legal responsibilities when it comes to fire, fire prevention, fire safety and fire procedures.
Fire Safety Legislation
Fire Safety Legislation applies to all commercial property and other buildings in which the public have access to. The Fire Safety Legislation states:
Employers (and/or building owners or occupiers) must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise.
Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
To help prevent fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, ie sources of ignition (heat or sparks) and substances that burn, and the people who may be at risk.
Once you have identified the risks, you can take appropriate action to control them. Consider whether you can avoid them altogether or, if this is not possible, how you can reduce the risks and manage them. Also, consider how you will protect people if there is a fire.
- Carry out a fire safety risk assessment
- Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart
- Avoid accidental fires, eg make sure heaters cannot be knocked over
- Ensure good housekeeping at all times, eg avoid build-up of rubbish that could burn
- Consider how to detect fires and how to warn people quickly if they start, eg installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells
- Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for putting a fire out quickly
- Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed at all times
- Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills
- Review and update your risk assessment regularly
How a Fire Affects a Business
Injury or Death
It sounds shocking but in reality, a fire in a business that results in injury or death will have huge consequences on the business owner or manager responsible for the safety of their employees and, or customers, the family of anyone who is injured or dies and the businesses ability to trade and their reputation. In these circumstances, there will be police investigations that can lead to criminal prosecution if a business cannot demonstrate they have correct fire prevention systems and safety procedures in place.
Smoke inhalation is extremely dangerous and can cause short and long term damage to a person’s lungs, throat and in some cases causes unconsciousness, all of which can have lasting effects and cause permanent damage. The physiological effects of smoke inhalation are also known to be long-lasting and even permanent so it is so important to have the right procedures in place for anyone within your business to ensure quick and safe evacuation.
Fire Insurance Claims
If a fire breaks out in a business and the Fire Safety Legislation and recommendations have not been followed then this can and are likely to invalidate a businesses insurance. If this is the case then the business will be responsible for rectifying and repairing any property damage caused by the fire as well as any legal claims or prosecutions that are made by other businesses who have been impacted, and if people have been injured or lives have been lost. The cost of this can be millions and results in businesses closing.
If an insurance claim is invalidated then the cost of the repairs to the property and claims can be huge and result in the business ceasing to trade. Often an insurance claim won’t be paid quickly as there are investigations as to how the fire could have been prevented, how it started and the procedures that were followed at the time. This can mean a huge amount of money needs to be paid out by the business to ensure it can continue to operate before the insurance claim is paid. Even if you have insurance in place it takes time to find and to move into temporary premises and get your systems and processes back up and running which is costly.
A fire can have serious consequences on a businesses ability to continue to operate at all or operate efficiently. Running any business is difficult and fire can result in you losing customers as they will go elsewhere and may never come back, as well as creating a reputation for not being able to deliver against legally binding contracts. Inaccessible premises don’t just affect public-facing businesses that rely on passing trade but also for any business where the premises are necessary for business activities. Even if your business property isn’t completely destroyed you may not be able to allow staff or customers back in to your property until any investigations have been completed, you may not have the information you need to continue to run your business if it has been destroyed, you may not have the equipment you need to continue to operate, you may not be able to dispatch the stock that you need to, and the list goes on. Any downtime has a huge impact on revenue as well as time spent re-organising how you will operate and both of these elements are difficult to recover from.
Property & Stock Damage
Fire does and can cause a huge amount of damage to property and stock and this can have a massive impact on a businesses ability to continue to operate, causing significant logistical difficulties as well as the cost of replacing stock that has been destroyed.
If your business stores data on-site which enables you to operate and fire breaks out and destroys it, this will have a serious impact on its ability to run, A business should always think about its data back up, however big or small it is, as losing it can result in a business ceasing to run.
A fire starting in a business can have a huge impact on a brand’s reputation and the effect of this is not always seen straight away. It is said that 80% of a businesses value comes from the hard-to-assess and intangible customer awareness and loyalty and if it is damaged this can be hard to overcome and fix. A company’s reputation is one of its biggest and most important assets which make it successful.
- Customers may be concerned that the products they are buying are no longer good quality and they will go elsewhere to a competitor
- Businesses that you work with, or alongside may no longer trust your business if the legal and required fire prevent precautions have not been taken and the proper procedures in place.
- If you aren’t able to provide a service or product to your customers, even for a short period of time, this will impact their loyalty and trust in you as a business and they will often seek out a competitor
- When customers become aware that your company is not functioning from its usual premises the reputational damage can have a huge impact. Even with temporary accommodation in place, many businesses find that customer attrition rates increase as service delivery reduces
- Ensuring employees are happy isn’t just a way to build up a business’s internal culture, it also impacts public reputation. Satisfied teams feel positive about their jobs and have a stronger sense of attachment and this reflects in the service they deliver or products they produce, and fire can damage and influence how an employee feels about the business they work for
- The above also relates to recruiting, potential new employees will be less likely to apply for jobs in a business that has experienced a fire and who’s reputation and brand has been impacted
- Injuries and fatalities from a fire can ruin a brand’s reputation
Fires easily and quickly spread and they don’t just damage the property it started in. It can damage the properties around it, the grass, trees, outbuildings, fencing and so much more, polluting the air with emissions harmful to our health as well as releasing harmful carbon dioxide which is a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere.
Fire Safety Summary
It is a legal requirement for businesses to ensure they have the correct Fire Safety Prevention Measures and Procedures in place and Fire Safety Procedures if a fire breaks out in the workplace. If safety measures are not in place and a fire does break out, a business will be liable for injuries, fatalities and property damage if their insurance is invalidated.
Elite Fire & Security Experts
Our Professional and Reputable Fire Services Include:
- On-site visits to evaluate and assess the layout and risks of your building for your fire system design – It is important that your system functions effectively and does the job it’s designed to do so we assess your building and produce a design that will work best for you and demonstrate the fire prevention and alarm systems you need
- Fire risk assessment and escape plans – as part of Health and Safety regulations your building must have these in place, we can supply everything you need to successfully pass fire safety regulations for businesses and commercial properties
- Fire alarm installation and design – as well as designing your system our fully trained Engineers will install and test your system and provide full training on its operation and functionalities
- Fire alarm maintenance and servicing – we will keep your system running and operating effectively with our planned maintenance and servicing and repair services
At Elite Fire & Security we understand that fire can devastate property, businesses and lives, so making certain you have sufficient fire protection in place at all times is critical to maintaining safety, meeting legal requirements and having peace of mind as a business or commercial property owner.
Fire Alarm systems give an early warning of a developing or unexpected emergency situation when smoke or fire is detected. This permits a safe and speedy evacuation of the premises and helps to protect all occupants.
Elite Fire Protection is one of the South West UK’s leading Fire Safety Specialists. We supply, install and maintain a wide range of fire safety products at premises throughout Bristol and throughout the South West.
Our experienced fire industry expert team are also readily available to evaluate the fire protection requirements of your property and provide the appropriate recommendations in line with the legal requirements and the environment.
We can design, install, maintain and service all fire safety systems, providing you with the very best fire protection for your business.
Elite Fire & Security Professional, Reputable & Cost-effective Fire Protection for your Business that you can trust.
Contact us today on 0333 577 1230 and one of our team will be able to answer any questions you may have and arrange your initial site visit for a free, no-obligation quote.