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5 Ways To Keep Your Business Prepared for California Wildfires

Smoke during Bay Area wildfire

California has already experienced devastating wildfires in 2022, with over 6,000 incidents burning over 360,000 acres across the state. Wildfire season really heats up in September and October, meaning it’s more important than ever to protect your business.

Foothill Fire Protection is here to help you understand the crucial steps you can take now so you are better prepared for this wildfire season.

Prepare for Multiple Types of Wildfire Damage

You may think your business is protected as long as it’s not right in a wildfire’s path, but the reality is there are threats other than direct flames that can cause damage.

  • Airborne embers: Embers can burn just as hot as the flames that created them. A large-scale wildfire can generate thousands of embers that can be blown up to 5 miles away. These small embers can land on flammable roofs or even enter through open windows or vents, igniting fires inside a building.
  • Radiant heat: You don’t have to stand too close to a fireplace to feel its heat. Now imagine you’re standing next to a wildfire. If the heat put off from a wildfire burns hot enough, it can actually ignite combustible materials 100 feet or more away or cause glass windows to break.
  • Direct flames: This third type of damage is the biggest threat. Wildfire paths can be unpredictable; a sudden shift in the wind can suddenly put your business in line with a serious blaze with little to no time to react.

Establish an Evacuation Plan

You should establish a clear evacuation plan — ensuring everyone who works in your building is aware of it and that it’s posted throughout your commercial property.

Begin by identifying several different escape routes and practicing them with your staff, so everyone knows how to safely exit from any point inside. Designate a meeting location in a safe area outside so you can keep track of everyone’s whereabouts in an emergency.

Another critical component of this plan is to identify what items you need to take with you in the event of a fire. Keep these to only the absolute necessities and make them easily transportable.

Store Combustibles & Flammable Materials Safely

Wherever possible, eliminate combustible materials from your property. Combustible and flammable materials that are unavoidable should be kept away from exit points.

Any fuel-burning equipment should never be stored indoors, especially:

  • Gasoline
  • Natural gas
  • Alcohol
  • Propane

Safe storage of these materials in and around your facility is one of the most crucial ways to protect from wildfire damage.

Create Buffer Zones Around Your Building

Think of buffer zones as layers of protection at different intervals around your property. Creating these zones can add protection against wildfire damage.

  • Zone 1 (0 to 5 feet): Reduce the chances of direct flames by avoiding trees, shrubs, and mulch in the landscaping closest to your building, opting for non-combustible alternatives like gravel instead. Clear any debris from your roof and gutters as well.
  • Zone 2 (5 to 30 feet): Trees and shrubs are safer in this area but should be spaced out and trimmed. Surround the building with hard surfaces, like concrete sidewalks.
  • Zone 3 (30 to 100 feet): This zone is most susceptible to radiant heat and airborne embers, so you should remove any dead trees or brush promptly.

Install & Maintain Fire Protection Systems

Finally, ensure your building is properly outfitted with protection systems that trigger automatically in the event of a fire. Fire protection systems must be professionally installed and routinely maintained, inspected, and repaired.

Systems and equipment you need include:

Check out our Fire Safety Checklist for a comprehensive guide to ensuring your safety equipment is up to code.

Choose Foothill Fire Protection for All Your Fire Protection Needs

Is your Northern California business properly protected against wildfires? For over 25 years, commercial property owners have trusted Foothill Fire Protection’s comprehensive fire safety solutions.

To learn more about our services or schedule inspections, testing, or maintenance on your fire protection system, contact us online or call (916) 663-3582.


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