ANZ business managers are underestimating the impact of fire

By Mark Gowans, Managing Director, Wormald Australia

22-05-2013 9-58-04 AMIf you’re a business owner or manager your building should have adequate safety equipment in place. Fire protection is an essential element of building safety but how much thought do you give to the effect a fire can have on your business?

Wormald recently surveyed 445 business managers from Australia and New Zealand about their thoughts on fire protection. It is no surprise to see that in the event of a fire almost all of the respondents are most concerned about loss of life. It is surprising however that many businesses are actually underestimating the impact a fire can have on operations.

Only 50 per cent of the ANZ businesses surveyed show concern for damage to property, 31 per cent are concerned about loss of data or equipment and just 16 per cent are concerned about downtime while repairs and rebuilding take place.

As a business owner or manager, consider the impact a serious fire could have on your business.  The results could be disastrous, and for some small businesses, the damage could be irreparable.  It’s vital that careful consideration is given to fire protection to help minimise the impact a fire could have on people, property and business operations.

Every facility will have specific associated risks. Of the ANZ companies surveyed that have experienced a fire, electrical hazards (33 per cent) and machinery (32 per cent) were the main causes. Both electrical and machinery fires commonly occur when a premises is vacant.

Carrying out a risk assessment of a building will help identify potential fire hazards. A risk assessment will assist in determining the fire protection solution required: whether it is a basic fire extinguisher or fire hose reel, a passive fire solution or a more advanced fire detection and suppression system.

According to Wormald Business Fire Safety Report, 98 per cent of the ANZ businesses surveyed have fire extinguishers in place, 90 per cent have a fire detection system and 50 per cent of respondents have an automatic sprinkler system installed.

Portable fire equipment, such as fire extinguishers, fire blankets and fire hose reels, is an essential line of defence. This equipment is vital for fighting small fires, but to operate it someone must physically be on the premises. As fire can spread out of control very quickly, particularly in large facilities, some building managers may choose to install an automatic fire suppression system such as an automatic fire sprinkler system. Fire suppression systems can be linked to a facility’s fire or smoke detection system. Once activated, they automatically release water to quickly suppress control the spread of a fire. Sprinkler systems can help minimise damage to property and by controlling fire, give building occupants extra time to safely evacuate.

Consulting with a fire protection specialist will ensure that the most appropriate fire protection solution is provided to protect your business. It’s important that the correct fire protection solution is in place, that adequate emergency signage is provided and that portable fire protection equipment is correctly positioned. Take for example a fire extinguisher – did you know that a water based fire extinguisher should never be used on electrical equipment and electrical fires. These are best treated with powder or carbon dioxide extinguishers? Staff should receive the necessary fire safety training applicable to your business, for example, portable fire fighting equipment training, which educates your staff on the types of fire extinguishers available and provides practical training on which extinguisher to use and how to use it correctly.

Planning for fire protection is vital. Business owners or managers must realise the impact that a fire can have on their business’ day to day operations and, subsequently its bottom line.  To help businesses prepare for fire protection, Wormald has developed a handy fire safety checklist which can be downloaded here.

To view the results of the Wormald Business Fire Safety Research click on the following links:

Wormald Business Fire Safety Research Report – Australia 
Wormald Business Fire Safety Research Report – New Zealand 


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