Protect Your Commercial Property from Severe Wildfire Losses

Protect Your Commercial Property from Severe Wildfire Losses | Property & Casualty

This year alone, 17,000 large fires have devastated nearly 2.5 million acres, indicating another devastating year of wildfire losses. This is not news commercial property owners want to hear as insured losses have reached nearly $1 billion annually since 2017. In California alone, wildfires have caused over $4 billion in commercial property losses in three of the past four years.

For commercial property owners, these losses will have a major impact on insurability. Underwriting standards for wildfire-exposed properties have tightened with increased regulatory scrutiny in wildfire-prone regions.

While these natural disasters can happen anywhere, some states’ weather and topography make them more vulnerable. These catastrophic events require intense coordination and shared resources of incident management teams nationally. Most states provide regionally specific tips and resources. The top ten states with the greatest risk of wildfires and their resources include:

The number one risk management strategy against wildfires is preparation. These preventative measures can protect your business from wildfire devastation.

Defensible Spacing

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends commercial property owners create a safety zone of up to 100 feet around their business. This spacing can prevent fire and embers from igniting materials and spreading toward your business.

  • Resist planting in and remove all vegetation from this zone.
  • If you require vegetation, properly irrigate and maintain only plants that are low-growing and non-woody.
  • Utilize flame-retardant landscaping, including rocks, pavers and concrete.
  • Install hard surfaces surrounding the building, such as a concrete walkway.
  • Do not store combustible items (e.g., pallets, flammable liquids) in the zone.

Building Composition

Commercial property owners can utilize several construction building materials and strategies to reinforce buildings and properties against a wildfire.

  • Noncombustible materials will not ignite, burn or release vapors when exposed to fire. Steel, masonry and ceramics have a Class A flame-spread rating that allows them to be utilized for building walls and ceilings.
  • Experts suggest wildfire-prone buildings be constructed with dual-paned windows composed of tempered glass. Operational windows should have screens to cover openable sections. Always close windows when threatened with a wildfire.
  • Install 1/8-inch or less meshing on all exterior vents to prevent windblown embers from entering. Regularly inspect your meshing for tears and remove any accumulated debris.
  • Ensure your building’s roof is covered with a Class A fire rating material and regularly inspect for any debris to be removed as it can ignite embers.
  • Apply flame-resistant or flame-retardant chemical treatments to curtains, drapes and upholstered furniture.
  • Regularly inspect your fire sprinkler system and alarms to make sure they are in proper working order. Download our Fire Sprinkler System Maintenance Checklist to use when inspecting your systems.
  • Download the FEMA app. You will receive regional alerts from the National Weather Service as well as FEMA open shelters.
  • Prepare an evacuation plan for your employees, residents or building occupants. Download our Disaster Preparedness Guide for tips to create or improve your strategy.
  • Work with your broker to review your current policies for wildfire protection and create risk mitigation strategies.

We're Here to Help

If you have questions about wildfire protection for your commercial property or would like more information on risk mitigation strategies, connect with a member of our team today. 

Protect Your Commercial Property from Severe Wildfire Losses | Property & Casualty losses have cost nearly $1 billion in insured losses for commercial property owners since 2017. Here are the top preventive measures against wildfires.2021-08-24T16:00:00-05:00This year alone, 17,000 large fires have devastated nearly 2.5 million acres, indicating another devastating year of wildfire losses.Risk MitigationProperty & Casualty InsuranceYes