Fire Contingency Planning: What Do You Do When a Fire Strikes?

by Craig Anthony

2 min read

No business owner expects a fire to strike, which is why few are adequately prepared when it happens. Contingency planning can save your business and its assets. This means taking steps ahead of time to minimize the damage of a fire. It also means planning what steps your business will take after a fire. The following disaster management tips show how to plan for a fire and what to do afterward to get your business running again.

Store Data in the Cloud

The cloud is an amorphous term that evades the grasp of the noncomputer literate. It refers to server space housed somewhere other than your place of business. When your business burns down and all your important files are stored on office computers, those files are gone forever. Files stored in the cloud live to see another day. Moreover, cloud servers offer additional benefits over local servers. They are nearly impervious to hackers, they give you greater control over who has access to which files, and they let you access files remotely.

Keep Records in Multiple Places

While the cloud protects computer files, you need a contingency plan for physical records. Don’t keep them all locked up in one place at the office. If that is where the fire hits, your records are gone, never to be recovered. For records you can’t afford to lose at any cost, make copies and consider placing the originals in a fireproof bank vault. Scanning them to a computer and backing them up to the cloud offers another method to ensure the information isn’t lost.

Business Continuity: Reach Out to Staff, Customers, and Suppliers

After a fire strikes, your first calls should be to those most affected. Let staff, customers, and suppliers know what happened, and what the plan is for moving forward. Keeping important players in the dark is how rumors get started, which are detrimental to your recovery efforts. With everyone on the same page, you can start rebuilding as a team effort. Your staff and customers feel invested in the process and are less likely to jump ship to your competitors.

Deal With Taxes and Insurance

One silver lining of a fire is the ability to write off losses at tax time. If you have fire insurance, it can compensate you for damages. Deal with these issues sooner rather than later. Once the smoke clears, tabulate damages, taking care to document them clearly. Then, contact the necessary people, such as your tax accountant and insurance agent, immediately.

Have a Fire Sale

Businesses use the term “fire sale” when they drastically reduce prices to unload inventory. But you can have a literal fire sale and sell, at deep discounts, items damaged in the fire. The items in question have impaired values, but they’re still worth something, and someone is liable to give you money for them. A fire sale also lets you inform the public, including current and prospective customers, that your business is taking the first step toward getting back on its feet.

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