How can you recover from a fire at your industrial facility?
The world saw the devastating damage a warehouse or factory fire can wreak when a US-based Jim Beam storage facility went up in flames in July 2019. The blaze destroyed around 45,000 barrels of ageing bourbon, a major loss of inventory to the distillery.
Jim Beam representatives played down the business' financial losses - however, for most Australian enterprises, this would be a catastrophic incident they could not recover from without the right funding.
The risks of a factory or warehouse fire
An uncontrolled blaze can have far-reaching consequences for your business, beyond just damaging your stock:
- Facility damage - a fire, if left unchecked, could go beyond just damaging parts of your facility. It could result in the building being completely unusable in the future.
- Ruined assets - any equipment, vehicles or tools stored onsite could also be compromised by heat or smoke damage.
- Impacted productivity - a longer-term cost of a fire is compromised work activity. If your facility is unusable after a blaze, this can reduce your ability to store and process goods. This can further impact on your bottom line as time goes on.
In many circumstances businesses will have the appropriate insurance policy in place to cover their facility, contents and loss of income in the event of a fire.
Industrial operators that may not be across what business assets are covered, however, should know these tips for speeding up recovery from a warehouse or factory fire.
1) Conduct a thorough safety and damage assessment
The most important step you should take immediately after a fire is assessing whether the building is safe to enter or not. Contact fire assessment specialists to check whether there is any danger re-entering the building. They will also be able to tell you about structural issues or other dangers, such as the presence of asbestos or chemicals, that could complicate repairs, or demolition and disposal.
2) Document everything
In the chaos of investigating what factors led to the fire and planning your recovery, make sure you avoid expensive mistakes by documenting everything. Log all phone calls you make so that you can track who you have spoken with and why. Additionally, keep all your receipts for ongoing costs of business recovery - they will be useful for claiming on an insurance policy or applying for a tax reduction.
3) Plan your remediation strategy
It can be tempting to rush into repairs straight away to minimise your downtime - after all, time is money, right? But acting in haste can also lead to expensive mistakes, especially if your facility needs ongoing safety assessments before it can be cleared for use. Not planning your remediation strategy can also impact your cash flow and compromise your ability to secure all the replacement equipment and stock needed to return to operations.
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