Workplace and non-residential fires can have significant consequences for a business. They can be devastating in so many ways for you, your employees, your customers, and the assets of your business. As a commercial property owner or business owner, it’s your legal responsibility to take fire safety and deficiencies seriously.
A deficiency is identified during regular inspections when your fire protection and life safety systems do not meet acceptable standards and codes. Fire safety systems work correctly when they are properly inspected and maintained. It’s so important to keep up with maintenance and inspections schedules to identify deficiencies before an emergency happens. Otherwise, the disruption and suffering that follows can be considerable and cause a new set of problems.
According to the NFPA’s most recent Fire Loss in the United States report, there were 75,000 multifamily residential fires reported resulting in 380 deaths, 3,400 injuries, and a property loss of more than $1.3 billion. There were also 120,000 non-residential structure fires resulting in 110 deaths, 1200 injuries, and a property loss of more than $4.3 billion. These are startling numbers that show why deficiencies matter and the impact they can have on employees, legal issues, company reputation, building and equipment, and sensitive assets.
Unattended deficiencies can result in major impacts to employees. They could suffer direct injuries, requiring an extended absence. They may also be affected by PTSD and long-term effects caused by smoke inhalation because of fire safety systems not in proper working order. These are just for the employees who were onsite during the fire.
For those not onsite, it affects them too. There may be no work to go to depending on the nature and level of damage to the building. A larger fire could even lead to job loss. Staff may feel it’s unsafe to come into the office, especially if the severity of the fire was in part due to deficiencies not addressed.
A fire in your building or company is likely to be investigated to determine its cause and for insurance purposes. The investigation will look at fire safety systems to ensure they were in proper working order. If neglect is shown and it’s been noted that you declined to fix a deficiency, you may face expensive legal ramifications such as costs, fines and even a jail time.
A fire can do a lot to a company’s reputation especially if the owner or business is at fault for not repairing a deficiency. Customers will see this as a major safety misstep in protecting not only your business assets but also your employees. Safety is held at the highest regard for most people, and they’ll look at you and your business the same way.
Building and Equipment Damage
Obviously when a fire occurs, there’s potential for at least some damage to the structure of the building. In the case of a severe fire, the building could be weakened, and need significant repair work before being signed off as safe for everyone to return to work. Even if the structure is ok, vital equipment may have been severely damaged or lost. This could be enough to shatter the business if a vast amount of equipment was lost and the severity of damage was due to not repairing a deficient sprinkler system.
Loss of Sensitive Assets
For most businesses, the loss of all data and physical documentation can be extremely detrimental in the event of a fire. If computers, servers, paper files and paper documents have been destroyed, you could lose a huge quantity of data that is vital to the operations of your business.
Business owners, building owners and managers hold a legal requirement to ensure their structures are protected and all fire safety systems are free of deficiencies. If a fire breaks out and deficiencies haven’t been addressed and fixed, a fire could be devastating to the business and the owner could be liable for injuries, fatalities and damages. Don’t overlook deficiencies. Have a peace of mind and take care of them immediately.