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Vero Voice Blog

Businesses could do more to protect themselves against fire damage

By Michael Dunning
Portfolio Manager, Commercial and Rural

31 May 2018

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Every year, Vero’s risk management specialists visit around 3000 commercial premises to help them find ways to protect themselves against loss.

One of the big opportunities we often identify is that many businesses could do more to better protect themselves against fire.

Research from the NZ Fire Service shows that 80% of commercial fires are extinguished in the early stages before firefighters arrive. Using fire extinguishers to put out fires is saving New Zealand $48.2 million dollars in reduced damage each year.

Why do so many businesses lack fire extinguishers?

The lack of appropriate or well-maintained fire extinguishers is a common problem that our risk management specialists identify in commercial premises.

When it’s raised with customers, quite often they may not have even thought of having a fire extinguisher or alternatively believe that because they are not required by New Zealand Building Code and they have a Building Warrant of Fitness they’ve done enough to safeguard their property. 

Many business owners or their tenants think that compliance with their regulatory obligation is sufficient, but they could do more to protect their premises, stock, ability to trade and livelihood by having the right fire equipment.

Insurance can only do so much

When a fire occurs, insurance can help our customers to recover much of what they’ve lost financially. But fires still cost time and productivity and insurance can’t replace everything that is lost. 

It’s a great idea for customers to do what they can to prevent fire damage, or minimise fires if they start. Fire extinguishers can serve a valuable purpose to help prevent damage and protect property and people.

Fires can often be safely tackled with the right equipment

The safety of building occupants and business owners is always the most important thing, and customers should never try to put out a fire that’s out of control, or where doing so could prevent them from exiting the building safely.

But fires often start small and can be safely tackled with the correct type of fire equipment. It is a good idea for building occupants to be trained in the use fire extinguishers as this ensures the greatest chance of success and helps keep them safe.

Fire extinguisher type and size matters, and that’s where our risk management specialists can help customers to identify the types of extinguishers they might need, where to place them and where to access training on safe use of extinguishers. 

We encourage all our customers to talk to us or their broker about the benefits of installing and maintaining fire extinguishers, to keep their business and their people safe.

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