While most people implement various methods to fireproof their homes, they rarely bring this caution into their businesses or workplaces. Most business owners also underestimate the damage potential of fires. Fire damage often occurs in two folds. First is the destruction and structural damage caused by flames, before smoke damage that remains after the fire incident.
While you can’t compensate for your initial negligence, small business fires shouldn’t mean the end of the business. Unfortunately, 40% of small business owners don’t reopen their businesses after disastrous fires. Reopening your business after a fire incident requires that you have a solid recovery plan. Below are a few tips for recovery after a business fire.
1. Call Your Insurance Company
Informing your insurance company should be the first step to recovery from all disasters. Therefore, you should notify your insurance agent immediately and divulge as much information about the incident as possible. You should highlight the extent of fire damage and estimated losses. Some of the things to remember include:
- Insurance company requirements for fire damage documentation
- Written extensions and approvals
- Scheduling a visit by the adjuster for the inspection
- Recommendations for quality restoration contractor
2. Disconnect Utilities and Assess Structural Safety
Small business fires affect all utilities in the building, including wiring, utility lines, and plumbing. Disconnect the building’s electricity, gas, and water supply immediately after the fire subsides. For safety purposes, you can contact your local city services technicians. Similarly, don’t reconnect utilities until a certified technician inspects and confirms the integrity of these connections.
You should then assess the extent of fire damage to the building. Fire damage weakens the structural integrity of the building. Additionally, firefighting chemicals soak the floors, ceilings, and walls, making it dangerous to resume business operations. Therefore, you should hire a certified professional to assess the building’s integrity before resuming operations.
As you assess for possible structural damage, you should secure the property. Any incident in your business, including small fires, often leaves the premise vulnerable to intruders. Damaged doors and broken windows are easy entry points that facilitate vandals. Even if some appliances were destroyed, lacking them as evidence to back your insurance claims can lead to serious liabilities.
3. Start the Recovery Process
Restoration experts can begin the recovery process depending on your agreement with the insurance provider. Initial recovery processes targets addressing potential hazards in the premise, such as ruptured pipes and damaged electrical wiring. They also evaluate unstable exterior and interior materials, such as ceilings, drywall, window, and door frames.
During this stage, you can assess the full extent of losses. Once restoration experts ensure personal and building safety, you can inspect the building, taking note of damaged inventory, furnishing, and equipment. Document this information as they come in handy during the claims process.
You shouldn’t be quick to discard fire-damaged business items. Ruined inventory, water-damaged furniture, and other business items should be left in place for the adjuster to examine the extent of business loss. The restoration company will also evaluate these items for the possibility of being salvaged.
Fortunately, most fire-damaged equipment in commercial settings is recoverable. Experienced professionals can restore business items, such as:
- Vendor and customer records
- Checkbooks and accounting ledgers
- Employee payroll records
- Business permits and licenses
- Tax-related paperwork
Consult your restoration company about the possibility of recovering these crucial business documents.
The aftermath of a small business fire should focus on recovery. Your business shouldn’t close because of a small fire incident. While this can prove overwhelming, especially counting losses and having to incur more during recovery, working with fire damage restoration experts can ease this process.
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