If your workplace is located within a "wildland urban interface"—a spot that borders an undeveloped, forested, or wild area—you should be prepared for wildfires.
Preparing Your Business for a Wildfire
Many of the same precautions that apply to homeowners also apply to your business, including:
- Fire-safe construction. Noncombustible roofing and fire-resistant siding are good places to start.
- Landscaping and vegetation. Create a clear zone 30 feet around your building in all directions—farther on a downhill slope, because fire can move extremely quickly uphill. Remove all combustibles from this zone, including wood fencing, stacked pallets, or landscaping mulch. For another 100 feet beyond that, reduce the amount of flammable vegetation as much as possible.
- On-site water supply. Make sure that your on-site water supply is adequate to control small fires until professional firefighters can get to you.
- Wildfire-fighting tools. Rakes, buckets, saws, shovels, and axes can control fires that are just starting.
- High-risk activities. During wildfire season, be careful about activities—such as welding, burning, and mowing—that have the potential to spark a wildfire.
If your site has special issues, such as radioactive materials or large-quantity storage of flammable or hazardous chemicals, or if your site includes large tracts of undeveloped land, it’s a smart idea to develop a customized wildfire response plan.
Preparing Your Workers
If a wildfire threatens your business, you may have enough warning to shut down. However, given the speed with which a wildfire can move and change direction, you may suddenly find that fire is upon you. You may have to evacuate immediately—and it will be a different sort of evacuation than if only your building was burning. Employees won’t be able to simply get outside the building and go to the assembly point to be counted; they’ll have to get out of the area altogether.
Any solid safety program must have all the basic elements of compliance in place. But employees still get injured even after companies meet mandatory requirements because of the human factors in safety that can’t be controlled fully by engineering and management systems alone. Want to learn more? Register for this free webinar on Strengthen Safety coming September 16th! Join today!
Make sure workers know:
- At least two routes (more, if possible) away from the building that they can take to safety in case one route is blocked by fire. Also, consider whether employees might have to evacuate on foot if roads are completely blocked.
- How to report in and to whom to report so that you can make sure everyone is safe.
Want to find out more about preparing a customized emergency response plan? The preparedness resources at Safety.BLR.com® can help.