New research has found that 83 percent of Australian businesses show no concern for the downtime that could occur if their business was to experience a fire. The research also found that 70 percent of businesses are not worried about the resulting loss of data.
In compiling the Business Fire Safety Report, Wormald surveyed 320 Australian business owners and managers about their approach to fire safety. While loss of life in the event of a fire is the main worry for 97 percent of respondents, only 40 percent cite damage to property and 33 percent cite loss of plant, stock or equipment as concerns.
Wormald managing director, Mark Gowans says that while protecting people should be the number one consideration, business owners cannot be complacent about protecting their livelihood. “Protecting people should always be the number one consideration. However, any business that has experienced a fire knows that the aftermath can take far longer to battle through than the fire itself. Fire can have devastating consequences and the damage can sometimes be irreparable. Property loss and damage can result in lengthy downtime while repairs and rebuilding take place and expensive equipment and important data can be destroyed,” Gowans states.
He recommends developing a crisis management plan when planning for fire protection, and giving careful consideration to how critical data is backed up and how you would operate if your premises were affected by fire. “When it comes to fire safety, careful planning is required and all fire hazards and risks should be assessed in order for the most appropriate fire protection system to be recommended and installed,” Gowans notes. “Business managers must realise the impact that a fire can have on their business’ day-to-day operations and, subsequently its bottom line.”
Most of the businesses surveyed have fire extinguishers (99 percent) and fire detection systems (83 percent) in place, but half do not have automatic sprinkler systems installed. “Portable fire equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire blankets and fire hose reels are an essential line of defence and are vital for fighting small fires. However, to operate the equipment someone must be physically on the premises,” says Gowans.
“Fire can spread out of control very quickly, particularly within large businesses and facilities. One option is to install an automatic fire suppression system, such as an automatic fire sprinkler system, which can help minimise damage to property. Sprinkler systems can be linked to a facility’s fire or smoke detection system and, once activated, automatically release water to quickly suppress and control the spread of a fire. Other fire suppression systems are available that, when activated, suppress the fire using inert gaseous agents such as Inergen and Sapphire systems,” he explains.
Of those respondents that have experienced a fire, electrical hazards (29 percent) and machinery (27 percent) were the main causes, both of which commonly occur when a premises is vacant.
To assist businesses in preparing for fire protection, Wormald has developed a business fire safety checklist, which can be downloaded here.
The Business Fire Safety Report was conducted in September 2012. As part of the report 445 business owners and managers from across Australia and New Zealand were surveyed. The sample is made up of 320 businesses in Australia and 125 businesses in New Zealand.