The consequences of a fire in your company can be devastating. Both people and property can be at risk when a fire occurs. The cost related to fire can reach unforeseen heights and sometimes a fire can even mean end of business.
Possible fire damage and human casualties are already bad enough, but there’s much more at stake than these direct costs. What companies often lose sight of, is the indirect, consequential damage. Fires can cause huge economic losses, through damage to property, loss of business, insurance premiums, etc.
Do you know what you have to lose? Let’s look at five of the most important consequences of a fire incident in your company.
1. Smoke and water damage
Fire is potentially the most damaging and disruptive event that any business can face. Fire can destroy all of your company’s valuable property and assets on its way. But a more common danger is around another corner: smoke and water damage.
You don’t always need a high-rise fire to have a lot of damage. Smoke is already the major cause of damage to buildings. Smoke contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, soot, and – depending on what is burning – other harmful chemicals, such as hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride, isocyanates and carcinogenic compounds such as benzene and dioxins.
The fire heat will push the soot, the by-product of incomplete combustion, forward and cover everything in its path. Due to the acidic nature of smoke, it can cause most metals to degrade over time, if the soot is not removed in time. Smoke can also damage electronics, machinery or any type of specialty equipment, when they get covered by a smoke film. Even light smoke damage has the capability to short out electronics by bridging circuits and providing an insulating covering on the heat producing components making them prone to extreme overheating which eventually can lead to pre-mature failure.
Water is the most common weapon for firefighters. Also, sprinkler systems are very effective to combat fires fast and to save lives. However, during and after a fire incident, a lot of water can be used which will accumulate on the company floor, causing inevitable water damage to your assets. This is not to say that sprinklers are a bad investment. Fire sprinklers usually use much less water compared to firefighters, so they create less water damage. In addition, they spring into action the moment a fire erupts, meaning that there will be less fire damage
2. Lost business
A major fire incident at a business premises cannot only cause a lot of physical damage, it can also bring your business to a standstill, leading to major profit loss. However, there are various degrees of business loss your company can suffer
TEMPORARY PRODUCTION STOPS
Depending on the size and nature of the business, it can be several months before your company can get back on track. Apart from the decreased revenue a company is facing, this is usually a period of great financial stress, as fixed expenses, such as rent, remuneration of employees, etc. continue to accumulate regardless of the extent of damage and production loss.
PRODUCTION STOP OF CRITICAL RAW MATERIALS
A fire incident at one company can quickly have a largerscale economic impact. When critical production units are hit by an incident, this may result in problems with the supply chain, increased prices of raw materials or even in the unavailability of certain products.
3. Loss of critical data
After the fire, your business needs to begin the process of recovery. Physical materials are usually easy to replace. But one of the things that is often overlooked in this stage is the possible loss and recovery of sensitive or critical company data.
Personal computers, hard drives and servers can be all be damaged by fire or water. Sometimes, they contain data that is critical the day-to-day operations of your business. Smart company owners will have anticipated a fire incident by backing up their critical information to a remote location. However, most people and businesses backup their data at the same location, never even expecting a fire. As a result, these computer systems and backups are subject to loss.
4. Reputational damage
A large part of a company’s market value comes from intangible assets such as brand equity, intellectual capital, and goodwill. In other words: one of the most important assets a company can have is its reputation.
If that company’s good reputation is reported and made known in the media and on the internet, it can lead to more customer inquiries, more sales and higher profits. However, a reputation is hard to build, but easy to lose. When disaster strikes, the whole world is watching, be it in the traditional media or on today’s increasingly populated social media channels.
5. Ecological damage
A fire event can have a serious impact on the natural environment as well. Not only does fire emit carbon already, a fire can also lead to non-carbon contamination of the air, water supply and soils.
A fire plume can contain contaminants from the contents of the building. Many new building products are made from synthetic plastics and polymers, which are more flammable than their natural predecessors and release harmful agents during a fire. Contamination of the soil and water can occur from the products of combustion in the fire plume.
Lastly, contamination of the water supply in an area can occur as a result of runoff from fire suppression methods (i.e. sprinklers, firefighting techniques) which can contain toxic byproducts of the fire
The possible consequences of a fire incident make it clear that fire safety in your company is not an idle luxury, but a necessity. To be effective, fire safety investments should be well thought through beforehand in a comprehensive fire safety plan that takes into account people, technology and planning.
Are you planning to improve the fire safety in your company, but you’re not sure where to start? Maybe we can help.
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