Wildfire Preparedness

From the U.S. Small Business Administration

Impacts of a wildfire include direct property damage, cost of suppression and damage to personal property and natural resources. The severity of effects is directly related to the intensity and extent of the wildfire. Consider the suggestions below to prepare your business for a wildfire event and ensure the safety of the people within your organization.

Before the Onset of a Wildfire

Keep an adequate number of appropriate fire extinguishers in strategic locations (such as near loading docks and waste collection areas) and maintain them properly.

  • Train employees on how to use extinguishers correctly.
  • Consider maintaining a water supply at your facility to control small fires until emergency personnel can arrive.
  • If your business is located in an area subject to freezing temperatures, be sure that water outlets and pumps are protected.
  • Evaluate water levels in extreme hot and cold weather conditions.
  • If your water pump uses electrical power, consider obtaining a gasoline- or diesel-powered pump or generator in case electricity is cut off during a fire. However, be aware of the risk of storing a large quantity of fuel. Use an appropriate storage facility that is protected against vehicle impacts and fire.
  • Have appropriate tools, such as rakes, axes, saws, buckets and shovels, available to help control small fires while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.

During a Wildfire

Go to a pre-designated shelter area such as a safe room, basement, storm cellar, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and use your arms to protect your head and neck. Do not open windows. Evacuation orders will often be swift and accurate for affected areas. However, if unable to evacuate, stay inside and away from outside walls. Close doors, but leave them unlocked in case firefighters require quick access into your area.

  • Turn on battery operated radio to get latest emergency information.
  • If your office roof is accessible by ladder, prop it against the building so you and firefighters have access to the roof.
  • Mark your position clearly with anything that may signal rescue workers to your presence inside the building. This could be articles of clothing or bright colored material attached to the outside of your location.
  • Close windows, vents, doors, blinds, etc. Shut off gas meters, pilot lights and propane tanks. Turn on all lights in the building to increase visibility in heavy smoke.

After a Wildfire

  • Immediately check the roof, put out any fires, sparks or embers (if accessible).
  • If there is no power, check to make sure the main breaker is on. Fires may cause breakers to trip. If the breakers are on and power is still not available, contact the utility company.
  • ALWAYS contact 911 if any danger is perceived upon re-entry and contact local experts before finally moving back in.

Your Employees

  • Train your employees in general fire safety, especially for tasks with a high fire risk, such as welding and cutting, fueling vehicles, working with flammable liquids, etc.
  • Teach employees about the importance of good housekeeping and grounds maintenance in preventing and controlling fires.
  • Have an adequate number of appropriate fire extinguishers and maintain them properly.
  • Train key employees in when and how to use fire extinguishers.
  • Consider when and how to evacuate employees if a wildfire threatens.
  • Establish an evacuation plan and keep it up to date.
  • Hold evacuation drills regularly so all employees will know who is in charge and so that they become familiar with evacuation routes and routines.
  • Make sure all employees can get out of the building, find shelter and communicate with a responsible person.
  • Plan primary and secondary exits from your buildings. Consider how employees will escape if doors or windows are blocked by an exterior fire.