Fire is one of the primary causes of business interruption around the world. And in the UK, according to the Association of British Insurers, roughly 60% of private businesses that experience a fire never recover. Several recent fires have hit the headlines, including the Ocado warehouse fire in Andover, which took four whole days to extinguish. And yet, despite the high profile incidents and the obvious devastation that can result from fire, many businesses are still not taking the threat seriously enough.
Why is fire a threat?
There are obvious risks to human life from fire and this can have very negative consequences for brand perception and reputation if not prevented. However, there is also the impact of fire on the ability that the business has to continue to trade to consider. Fires in the UK contribute to £8 billion of damage to homes and businesses on an annual basis – that’s why more than half of businesses affected by fire simply don’t recover afterwards. Even with insurance many struggle, as premiums can become punitively expensive. After a fire, insurers will increase premiums for those affected – you only have to look at California to see evidence of this where, in the wake of wildfires and subsequent insurance claims, complaints about premium hikes increased by 217%.
How can a fire interrupt business continuity?
There are a number of ways that this can happen, including:
If premises are inaccessible then the business may simply not be able to trade, resulting in lost revenue. This doesn’t only affect public facing businesses that rely on passing trade but any business where the premises are necessary for business activities.
Reputational damage when clients or customers become aware that your company is not functioning from its usual premises. Even with temporary accommodation, many businesses find that customer attrition rates shoot up as expectations of service or delivery plummet.
The cost of temporary interruption
Even if you have insurance in place it may take time to move into temporary premises and get systems up and running. That delay can be costly.
For those organisations storing data on site, a fire that wipes this out – in particular where there is no off site back up - can be devastating.
Protecting against business interruption
Any fire prevention strategy should include the kind of passive fire protection measures that are designed to avoid business interruption. These work to help slow down destruction of property and premises, allowing people time to escape and providing more opportunity for the emergency services to intervene.
From fire walls and fire stopping through to cable coating and fire resistant glass, there are multiple options for integrating passive fire protection safeguards that provide a way to slow down the impact of fire, making it less devastating. The end result is that – in combination with other fire protection measures – passive fire protection ensures business interruption can be minimised.