Wildfires are a growing threat to people and property in the U.S. due to persistent drought, warmer temperatures, periodic high winds, and excessive dried vegetation in forests and grasslands. Additionally, more key infrastructure – power plants, airports, and even industrial sites – are being placed in close proximity to wildland areas, increasing the risk for property damage and loss of life.
Our partners at CNA have put together an extensive document outlining the best ways to prepare your business in the event of a wildfire.
In this document, you will find an outline of the threat, how to protect your property and best practices for wildfire resiliency. Read the full document to find more details on defensible space and wildfire-Resistant Construction, along with additional resources.
General Guidelines to Help your Organization Prepare and Respond
Before a wildfire event:
- Have an incident/emergency response plan that contemplates wildfire. An annual review and exercise can increase the effectiveness of these plans.
- Distribute emergency contact telephone call lists to all employees.
- Review your business continuity plan (BCP) annually to ensure recovery plans and strategies are up-to-date. CNA’s Business Resiliency Self-Assessment can help you identify opportunities to strengthen your resiliency programs.
- Post road signs and your company name and street address so they are easily visible.
- Make sure there is an easily accessible tool storage area near your facility with rakes, hoes, axes, and shovels.
- Review shutdown plans for equipment and operations to ensure they reflect current conditions at the location.
- Ensure your building(s) include as much wildfire-resistant construction as possible (as discussed in the Wildfire-Resistant Construction section above).
- Ensure your defensible space is established and regularly maintained (as discussed in the Defensible Space section above).
When a wildfire threat is present:
- Monitor local and state government information distribution (e.g., websites, radio).
- Move company vehicles out of the danger area. Have employees take them home if possible.
- If possible, move combustible material away from windows in preparation for an evacuation order.
- Close all exterior windows, doors, and skylights, if possible.
- If there are any valuable papers or files that have not been duplicated, keep them together in one place so they can easily be taken with you when you evacuate.
- Ensure server data is backed up off-site or backed up and taken off-site to a secure location.
- Identify modes of transportation out of the wildfire area.
- Prepare to execute the incident response plan.
- Remind employees of the incident response procedures and distribute employee telephone numbers and emergency contact lists.
When you are ordered to evacuate:
- Remove any combustible window coverings.
- Shut off gas and fuel to the building. If you have fuel tanks outside, make sure all valves supplying fuel are shut off.
- Turn off all machinery and equipment.
- Make sure your fire sprinkler system is fully in service (with control valve open) if you have fire sprinklers.
- Close and lock all doors, windows, and skylights.
- Shut down HVAC equipment, especially the fans that bring outside air into the building.
- Take a call list of employees with you in case you need it, and start the process to let employees know the status of your business.
- All persons must leave the location and should not stay behind.