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Hot summers bring about a heightened risk of fire incidents, presenting a significant danger to human lives, businesses, and the environment. The combination of scorching temperatures, dry vegetation and other climate factors creates perfect conditions for fires to ignite and spread rapidly.
Implementing effective strategies to manage fire risk and promoting fire safety measures can help protect your staff and business, while considering the right insurances will help you recover if disaster strikes.
With the Bureau of Meteorology recently declaring an El Niño event and a positive Indian Ocean Dipole, Australia's 2023/24 summer is forecast to be the hottest and driest weather experienced since the 'Black Summer' of extreme bushfires in 2019/20.
Commercial fires pose a significant threat to businesses, employees and property, often resulting in devastating consequences.
Understanding the common causes of these fires is crucial for implementing effective preventive measures. By identifying the key factors that contribute to commercial fires, businesses can take proactive steps to mitigate risks and ensure the safety of their premises.
The following are some of the most frequent causes of commercial fires.
Businesses need to prioritise broad fire safety measures, including preparation and planning what to do in the event of fire risk events, conduct regular inspections, staff training, adequate storage and handling procedures, and adherence to building and fire codes.
Under the Work Health and Safety Act1 employers have a responsibility to manage all health and safety risks in the workplace, including fire. Specifically, a business must have an emergency plan in place and evacuation procedures in the event of a fire.
Businesses must ensure the health and safety of employees by eliminating as far as reasonably practical, or otherwise minimising, risks to health and safety.
Staff should receive training on fire prevention, evacuation procedures, and equipment usage. Regular fire drills help ensure preparedness and familiarise occupants with procedures.
Conducting regular fire risk assessments can enable taking pre-emptive measures to eliminate or mitigate identified risks. You may choose to do this yourself, as the business owner, or engage a service provider who could spot potential hazards you may have overlooked.
All business premises should be compliant with the fire safety and building codes/national construction codes1 applicable in their state or territory.
They must also comply with the following Australian Fire Regulations standards2 that support fire risk detection, mitigations and fire event safety management:
By investing in robust fire management practices, business owners can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing they have taken proactive steps to mitigate fire risks, protect lives, workplaces and employees, valuable property and assets, and maintain a resilient business environment.
Prevent your property or business assets from going up in smoke by getting insurance and risk management advice in advance. Our brokers have the expertise to help ensure you have the right protection in place.
1 National Construction Code , accessed 4 October 2023
2 Fire Regulations Australia , accessed 4 October 2023
Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and benefits consulting services for clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance and/or risk management perspective, and offer broad information about risk mitigation, loss control strategy and potential claim exposures. We have prepared this commentary and other news alerts for general information purposes only and the material is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, legal or client-specific risk management advice. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. The information may not include current governmental or insurance developments, is provided without knowledge of the individual recipient's industry or specific business or coverage circumstances, and in no way reflects or promises to provide insurance coverage outcomes that only insurance carriers' control.
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