Business Safety Week: The true costs of a fire on your business premises

Sep 5, 2022 | Commercial Security

Business Safety Week: The true costs of a fire on your business premises

Business safety week is an annual week dedicated to educating local businesses on protection and prevention against fire incidents in and around the workplace. The week is run by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and supported by fire and rescue services nationwide. The NFCC is the professional voice of the UK Fire and Rescue service. During Business safety week, staff can expect advice from local fire departments regarding fire risk assessments, tools to help prepare for audits, advice on reducing things such as arson and false alarms, and how to inform employees of the best practices. The week runs from the 5th-11th of September as many businesses will be taking on new staff for the busy Christmas period who may be uneducated on fire safety practices. 

Cost of fire to your business?commercial fire alarm installation

There is no doubt that fires can be devastating, and with over 145,000 fires reported in 2021, fire safety is paramount for all businesses.

Several things influence the cost of installation of fire safety systems on business premises. The number of alarms needs to be considered, the inclusion of heat detectors, the type of alarm and the amount of monitoring and maintenance required. The cost of labour must also be factored in and the potential disruption this may cause to your business’s daily operations. Although hard to estimate cost due to the vast variables, a business owner can expect to pay anything in the region of £1,000+ to £10,000+ for larger and more complex premises. Whilst this may seem like a significant investment on something that doesn’t directly increase revenue, it is an investment that is required by law and can save businesses from huge financial complications and rebuilding costs later down the line. 

Fire can cause an array of damages to a business, both physically and mentally.

Structural damage renders a building unsafe or uninhabitable, smoke damage that can linger for months after a fire, and third-party damage. For example, the water used to put out a fire can be absorbed into the walls and cause them to become damp and mouldy.

Destruction of equipment required for day-to-day operations such as coffee machines, tills, lighting, etc.  

Fire may also destroy or irreversibly damage physical documents such as proof of ownership and permits that may cost to replace or lead to logistical and legal issues later down the line.

Staff absence will prevent customers from entering if a property is damaged, and employees may leave if they feel the business is unsafe. A Fire can also cause injuries and fatalities, leading to emotional trauma for all involved and possibly legal and financial repercussions.

The business may see an initial halt of foot traffic as the premise undergoes restoration meaning the primary revenue stream is temporarily lost. Reduced foot traffic may continue after repairs as customers may no longer feel safe entering.

 An estimate of the financial cost of repairs from a commercial fire for various properties is shown below:

  • Warehouse- £105,600
  • Retail stores- £51,400
  • Office properties- £27,600
  • Restaurants and bars- £27,000
  • Schools- £14,000
  • Healthcare facilities- £6,900

However, costs don’t stop at rebuilding and restoration. If businesses are found to be in breach of fire safety regulations, then they may also receive a significant fine.

In 2007 highstreet retailer New Look lost their Oxford street store to a fire that required 150 firefighters and disrupted numerous neighbouring stores. They were found to be not providing sufficient fire safety training to their staff, and fire exits were blocked by storage. As a result, they received a £400,000 fine.

Shell International was also in breach of several fire safety laws, in 2005, including defective fire doors and blocked escape routes. The company was investigated after two fires within three weeks at a centre in waterloo and fined £300,000. 

However, it’s not just large organisations at risk of commercial fires, so regardless of the size of your business, fire safety is necessary.  

In May 2022, Derbyshire firefighters were called to a commercial property in Normanton following an accidental fire caused within the commercial kitchen. A week earlier, firefighters attended an accidental fire that started within Glossopdale School and Sixth Form, in which a sprinkler system prevented the fire’s spread. 

How to protect from a fire?

A comprehensive guide to Fire Safety can be found here.
However, here are 3 quick points that are important when protecting against a commercial fire.  

commerical fire safety audit

1) Fire prevention and detection

The most effective way to deal with commercial fires is prevention. Although impossible to be 100% fireproof, a good prevention and detection system will reduce the likelihood of fire starting. This would include a high-quality fire alarm and detection, fire blankets, and regular fire safety audits.

2) Responding to a fire

Should a fire break out, a quick response time is vital. Again, this will include a fire alarm to alert those in the immediate vicinity. The building should also have fire exits to provide safe routes out of the premise. Additionally, installing remote monitoring to fire safety systems will allow for quicker response time from emergency services. 

3) Resilience

Should a premise suffer a commercial fire, effective restoration is required. This includes possible maintenance or repair of the fire prevention system and the inclusion of a security system to protect against arson. 

Contact us here if you are interested in receiving a free fire audit.