Cost of Fire to a Business
A fire breaking out can be a disaster wherever they occur, which means it can certainly be a disaster for a business. Whether your business premises is full of computers or furniture, paperwork or clothing, a fire can cause havoc and cost you in a number of ways, and not just financially. Here, we are going to look at what those costs can be and why you should always, always be prepared in case of a fire.
What could a fire cost my business?
If you’ve recently experienced a fire in your workplace, it can certainly put off staff from coming into work, not to mention the fact they might not even be able to, depending on how damaged the property is.
Coming into work after a fire has damaged the business is not ideal for anyone, and it can certainly have a negative impact on morale, which can, in turn, affect productivity.
Damage to building
Structural damage is a very real risk when a fire breaks out. Depending on the severity of the fire, the building could be considerably weakened, and it goes without saying that this presents a huge safety risk. Your building may need to be assessed before you and your employees can return to work.
Depending on what type of business you own or operate, your reliance on equipment can vary from total dependence to barely using it. However, fire-damaged equipment is almost always unsaveable, and this can lead to a lot of lost work, and a lot of money spent replacing the damaged equipment.
Damage to physical documents
Computers and gadgets aren’t the only vital parts of an office. Documentation is crucial, and if these documents go up in smoke it can cause untold hassle, misery and problems for your business. From patient records at hospitals to contracts and financial records, all of these things contain vitally important information and the loss of them can be disastrous.
Top 5 largest fines for fire safety in the UK
If a business is found to be in breach of fire safety rules, then a hefty fine could be on its way. Some fines are much bigger than others, and we’ve collated the five biggest fire safety fines in the UK:
The Radnor Hotel – £200,000
The owner of the hotel, Salim Patel, was found to be in breach of several fire safety laws. The hotel had inadequate fire detection systems, inadequate emergency lighting, missing fire doors and no fire risk assessment procedure.
The Chumleigh Lodge Hotel – £210,000
Denying 12 charges of neglecting fire safety laws, the owner of this London hotel was found guilty on all counts, including a lack of fire doors, inaccessible escape routes, lack of smoke alarms in certain guest rooms, insufficient training in fire safety awareness for staff.
The Co-operative Group – £210,000
Safety breaches committed by the Co-operative Group at its store in Shirley Road, Southampton included failure to maintain rear emergency doors, a fitted lock requiring a security code on the emergency door, obstruction of fire alarm call point, failure to ensure regular testing of fire alarm systems, and failure to ensure the store manager was provided with suitable fire safety training.
Global oil giant Shell were found to be guilty of significant failings in fire safety at their Shell Centre in central London. Its breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 incurred the largest fine under that particular law. The breaches included blocked escape routes, blocked fire exits, defective fire doors and excessive fire loading.
New Look – £400,000
After their Oxford Street store was destroyed by a fire in 2007, requiring 3 days of work from 35 engines and 150 firefighters and disrupting the trade of 50 other shops, New Look were fined £400,000. It was found that staff were not trained sufficiently, and storage was blocking escape routes.
Most common causes of office fires
Cooking apparatus and facilities are now relatively commonplace in many offices, and all it takes is a loss of concentration or lack of care for a fire to break out. Leaving something on a hob for too long, leaving the toaster on too high, for example, are simple mistakes but they can have serious consequences.
Electrical fires are rarely the fault of human error, although they can be (overloading sockets, for example). However, the usual cause for electrical fires is faulty wiring, which is not obvious to the untrained eye. Ensure basic checks are carried out regularly, and contract a qualified professional to carry out PAT testing, too.
Even a stubbed-out cigarette can catch fire if the conditions are right for it, which means smoking can present a serious risk to the safety of your property. Provide cigarette disposal units in your business property to allow people to discard their cigarettes safely, and you don’t have to worry about a used cigarette causing a fire. A third of fire-related deaths in non-domestic buildings were caused by smokers’ materials, which shows how serious a problem this is.
Mini heaters are very useful on those bitterly cold days, but they can pose a risk if you don’t treat them with care and attention. If left on for too long, they can overheat, or if they are left on and too close to flammable objects, said objects can ignite very easily.
Could your business survive a fire?
How high is the risk of fire to my business?
The answer to this question differs with every single business, but the means of finding out remains the same for everyone: a fire risk assessment. By carrying out a risk assessment, you are firstly increasing the safety of you and your employees, but you can also make changes to areas that need changing, and it also stands you in good stead with insurance companies.
Disaster recovery plans
Having a disaster recovery plan may sound somewhat dramatic, but it can, in fact, be vital in minimising downtime for your business and thus minimising the financial impact the downtime can have on your business. There are plenty of disaster recovery plan templates available online, and you can download them and tweak them in accordance with your business.
City Fire Protection are proud to be a leading independent provider of fire safety equipment and training for businesses around the UK. If you would like to know more, please get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to help.