Planning for bushfires – warnings cannot be ignored

By Mark Gowans, managing director, Wormald Australia

This summer, weather experts, authorities and fire services are warning we could see the worst bushfire conditions in almost 40 years.

To be prepared, business owners and anyone working or living in bushfire prone areas must have a bushfire survival plan in place. We also recommend seeking advice from your local fire brigade to help ensure lives and properties are adequately protected.

The heavy rains of the last two years have brought about extensive grass growth and senior fire officers are predicting that this summer will see an increase in bush and grass fires, especially in NSW, QLD, WA and the ACT.

Grass fires are especially dangerous because they can start easily, spread quickly and often catch people off guard.  As part of a bushfire survival plan, business owners should assess how they can protect their property and consider what fire protection systems need to be in place.

Our sister company GAAM Emergency Products offers a lightweight and easy to use fire fighting package called the Fire Defender which is suitable for homeowners and small businesses.  The device draws water from a source such as a swimming pool, dam or creek and can suppress small scale fires like a spot fire or ember attack.

As well as having fire protection equipment in place, it’s essential that all staff and building occupants understand what to do in the event of a fire.  Clear evacuation procedures should be in place and everyone should be aware of the location of the nearest shelter. Bushfire response plans should be practiced regularly.

Business continuity is a key concern for business owners.  Property loss and damage caused by bushfire can result in lengthy downtime while repairs and rebuilding take place.  Expensive equipment and important information can be destroyed by fire so it’s important that data and files are adequately backed up.

If your business is located in a bushfire prone area, you should also check your insurance policy and ensure your business is covered against damage that could be caused by bushfire.  It’s important to stay on top of this as some insurance companies have specific criteria which you must adhere to.

The Queensland Government provides advice for businesses when planning for bushfires – view its preparation checklist here.

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