The last thing any business owner desires for their venture is its termination. Whilst unforeseen circumstances can cause such a tragedy, it is even more regretful for any businessman to know that the fundamental reason for a shutdown could have been prevented.
Indeed, if a survey by insurance firm NFU Mutual is anything to go by, enterprises should take a more prudent approach when it comes to preventing fire incidents. The company’s survey found that 80% of businesses fail within 18 months of a major incident; a humdinger of a stat if there ever was one. NFU Mutual also revealed it had forked out over £43m in claims for commercial fires in 2012, with the major causes of such fires being arson, electrical faults, electrical equipment and fires in commercial vehicles. Thus, with the exception of prodigious circumstances where an arsonist has set out to damage property, the causes are very much avoidable.
Of course, it is hard to argue that the outbreak of fire is one of the biggest physical risks to any enterprise. Rebuilding a business after a major fire or incident can take months, if not years, and in some 80% of cases – as revealed – it can lead to complete dissolution. Yet, in spite of the potentially detrimental fire damage, many enterprises are simply not equipped to survive after a major catastrophe. In that sense, the old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ becomes rather pertinent.
What’s the best course of action, then? Well, the first port of call is to carry out an assessment of the risk of fire within the premises and an evaluation of the precautions in place. Business owners are advised to identify the fire hazards and people at risk; remove or reduce the risk where possible; and prepare and test an emergency plan.
“It’s not just physical assets, such as premises and equipment, which are at risk from fire; the loss of data can be equally devastating for a business,” said Georgina Farndon, commercial development manager at NFU Mutual. “Firms need to know how to deal with what happens after a fire.”
Ultimately, fires and other major incidents can be unpredictable and unpreventable, but simple and effective fire safety procedures should go a long way in ensuring that your prized venture doesn’t go up in flames.