Fire: Is your business fully prepared?

A fire in the workplace presents huge risks to property and to the health of employees and the public. It can physically damage or destroy buildings, contents and equipment, potentially forcing the entire business to cease operations. It can also be responsible for serious injuries and even death.

Woodworks Interiors, who specialise in the production of office furniture, experienced the problems a fire can cause in 2013. A fire broke out at a nearby launderette and quickly spread to their workshop.

There was damage to stock and even more damage was caused by the water required to put out the fire. This destroyed the materials the company needed to make their furniture, and even the building itself, by causing the roof to collapse. The company no longer had a safe working environment in which they could fulfil their client orders and some costly damage needed to be paid for.

An uncertain future

The future of Woodworks Interiors hung in the balance – but Jelf’s insurance plan successfully protected them. This was thanks to the speed in which Jelf were able to send out a loss adjustor the day after the fire, so the company did not have to wait to be seen at such a critical time.

Jelf worked quickly and efficiently with all parties involved and it did not take long to find a temporary new home for Woodworks Interiors. Not only did their insurance policy cover the cost of the new rent, it also covered the cost of reconnecting equipment and purchasing the key materials Woodworks Interiors needed, in order to fulfil their backlog of client orders on time.

The speed in which Jelf reacted to this situation saved Woodworks Interiors at a time when they could have potentially lost their business. As an added bonus, the company like their new location so much, that they have decided to stay there, and business has never been better.

Key learning

It is vital to conduct a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. The information that was gathered during Jelf’s risk review meetings provided Woodworks Interiors with the cover they really needed, when they needed it most.

Once you have identified the risks, you can take appropriate action to control them. Consider whether you can avoid them altogether or, if this is not possible, how you can reduce the risks and manage them[1].

  • Carry out a fire safety risk assessment.
  • Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart.
  • Avoid accidental fires. For example, make sure heaters cannot be knocked over.
  • Ensure good housekeeping at all times, such as avoiding build-up of rubbish that could burn.
  • Determine how you can detect fires and warn people quickly if they start, such as by installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells.
  • Have the correct equipment for putting a fire out quickly.
  • Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed at all times.
  • Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills.
  • Review and update your risk assessment regularly.
  • Review your insurance policies to check you are appropriately covered.

Companies take out insurance to cover every eventuality. We all hope that we will never claim and if we do, it’s for something that doesn’t impact on our businesses. But occasionally something serious can happen and in the very worst scenario an incident or accident can threaten the very existence of your business.

For more information and advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!


[1] Zywave H&S Recap Fire Safety