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  • Erika Guzman Cornejo

Protecting Your Business from Wildfires

The most significant steps you can take to ensure your business’ resiliency in case of a wildfire event are BEFORE one actually occurs. You never know when one may strike, so it is crucial to have processes in place before, during, and after. The following are steps you can take towards emergency preparedness.

Before a Wildfire Event:

  • Invest in wildfire resistant construction

    • Walls can be protected by cement, plaster, stucco, and concrete masonry, like stone, brick, or concrete block

    • Tempered glass is more resistant to fracturing even when exposed to temperatures higher than the radiant heat needed to ignite wood framing

  • Maintain your defensible space (30 feet from the primary structure) to slow the spread of wildfires

    • Clear vegetation, debris, and other combustible fuels

    • Locate liquid propane and other fuels tanks 30 feet away from the building and on the same level as your primary structure - never uphill

  • Have an emergency wildfire response in place

    • Distribute emergency contact lists to all employees and establish multiple channels of communication as cellular and internet service may be down during an event

    • Keep important documents in one place so they are easy to grab when evacuating

    • Ensure your business’ server data is backed up

  • For insurance purposes, take pictures of rooms, areas, and equipment that could sustain damage

    • Store these pictures digitally and as a hard copy, updating them as needed

    • Review your insurance and check what disasters common in your area are covered

  • Determine which direction wildfire is most likely to come from - make sure your business is especially prepared for defense in that direction

During a wildfire event:

  • Monitor local and state information distribution

  • Move combustible material away from windows

  • Close all windows, doors, and other openings

  • Remind employees of incident response procedures

During evacuation:

  • Shut off gas and fuel

  • Turn off all machinery and equipment

  • Make sure your sprinkler system is in service

  • Turn off HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) equipment, like fans that bring outside air into the building

  • Ensure that all employees evacuate

After wildfire event:

  • Initiate your business continuity plan after the wildfire has safely passed

  • Determine steps to recover regular operations based on impacts of the wildfire

  • If recovery funds beyond your insurance coverage are needed, you may qualify for one of the following Small Business Administration (SBA) loan for post-disaster recovery:

    • Physical Disaster Loan

      • This loan covers disaster losses not fully covered by insurance. It can be used to repair or replace real property, machinery, equipment, fixtures, and inventory.

    • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

      • This loan offers businesses the working capital necessary to cover operating expenses until normal business operations resume and is only offered to small businesses who can not otherwise get credit.

For more wildfire resiliency resources:

To get help, contact or (833) 473-2020.

Download "How to Protect Your Business from Wildfires":

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