Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Real Barn Burner - Reducing Fire Risk

While the jury is still out on whether Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was the culprit behind the fire that wiped out Chicago, fire damage is a constant, somewhat overlooked threat to the agribusiness. While most people consider fire exposure to be limited to buildings and electrical equipment, there’s a significant fire threat throughout your operations. Grain fires, haystack fires, and even pasture fires can result in devastating losses to your income and product.
Not much can be done to mitigate against acts of nature – lightning strikes that cause fires, drought conditions that exacerbate chances of a fire, etc. But for many areas of the agribusiness, fire loss exposure can be reduced significantly by developing risk reduction strategies.
If you store fuel for your equipment, store it well away from any structure and make sure all brush and debris is kept clear. Also, store your fuel away from your equipment. It’s one thing to lose a tank of fuel. It’s entirely another to lose your fleet, as well.
When assessing your fire exposure, look at the construction of your buildings. Are they equipped with sprinkler systems and fire alarms? Are roofing materials tile, metal, or fiberglass and not wood? Are your buildings covered in fire-resistant materials, such as brick, stone, or concrete? To reduce your exposure to fire, eliminate as much wood construction as possible.
Other fire hazard reduction tips:
- Keep areas around your buildings clear of vegetation. Dried plants and weeds are simply fuel waiting to ignite.
- If you don’t already have it, install an emergency water supply. This reserve could save your building should a fire break out.
- Construct your driveways and access roads with emergency equipment in mind. Make sure they are wide enough to accommodate fire trucks (minimum of 12 feet wide by 15 feet long).
Check with your agribusiness insurance broker for more information on reducing your fire risk.

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