Wildfires are a powerful and deadly force of nature that can wreak havoc on the lives, land and structures that stand in their path. Protecting your business and property from wildfires is more crucial than ever, as wildfire season becomes longer and generates larger fires—resulting in more acres and properties burned each year. According to the National Interagency Coordination Center, 60% of the largest wildfire seasons (based on total acres burned) have occurred in the last 10 years.
Federal wildfire suppression costs in the United States average at $1.6 billion each year, but this only accounts for a fraction of the total costs of wildfires when considering the lives lost, buildings destroyed and acres burned. Proactive risk management tactics can help keep the costs of wildfires down, as well as keep your business and your community safer in the face of such disasters.
This article provides an overview of the dangers wildfires pose, as well as steps that businesses like yours can take to mitigate those risks.
The Dangers of Wildfires
Humans cause nearly 85% of wildfires in the United States. These fires typically result from unattended campfires, the burning of debris, equipment uses and malfunctions, poorly discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. Once a wildfire ignites, it can cause rapid destruction. Wildfire exposures include:
Wildfires can cause direct property damage to businesses—resulting in service disruptions, transportation stoppages and utility interruptions. Lengthy and costly recovery concerns from a wildfire could force businesses to pass on the costs to their customers by raising prices. Otherwise, impacted businesses may have to close their doors altogether.
Mitigating Wildfire Exposures
Since wildfires are so damaging, businesses must be proactive to help minimize the potential impacts. A wildfire risk management strategy can significantly reduce the likelihood of property damage, minimize costly business interruptions and—subsequently—prevent a financially draining recovery process.
The first step that your business should take in creating a wildfire risk management strategy is to assess the vulnerabilities of your commercial property. Since wildfires depend on heat and embers coming into contact with different fuel sources to spread, one of the most effective ways to prevent a wildfire from spreading is to lessen fuel loads. Roofing, exterior walls, windows, vents, gutters, decks and other attachments are all at risk of igniting, so choosing fire-resistant or noncombustible materials—like brick and concrete—can reduce that risk. Strategic placement and selection of trees, shrubbery and other landscaping elements can also decrease the risk of wildfire damage.
Here are ways in which your business can slow the spread of wildfires, effectively minimizing the risks of damage:
As the risk of wildfires continues to grow, businesses like yours need to have plans to prepare for, withstand and recover from such events. For more risk management guidance, contact us today.
Source – Zywave, Inc.