Fire risk assessments are not exactly high on the list of priorities for everyone. Some small businesses might think fire evacuation procedures are not important. So spare a thought for the business owner in Scotland who didn’t think a fire would ever affect his organisation.

The business was unlucky enough to suffer a fire and they didn’t have an evacuation procedure, they probably couldn’t find the time to do it — especially as there 101 other things to do every week to keep the business afloat.

The fire brigade arrived yet the absence of an evacuation procedure (which should be tried and tested) meant that no-one at the premises could tell the brigade if anyone was left in the building.

The search for survivors was on and, until that was completed, attention couldn’t be turned to saving the property. After all, priorities are always people before property. In this instance the brigade were compelled to spend time looking for people as the building burned. No problem so far, until the insurance assessor started asking questions.

Fire safety is a prerequisite to insurance. It’s enshrined in health and safety legislation and insurance cover works best if health and safety law has been followed. The insurance claims department decided that the time it took to look for people could have been spent dowsing the flames.

Hence, they didn’t pay the total amount claimed stating that the policyholder was negligent and contributed to the size of the loss. I’ve been unable to determine whether or not his broker had advised him that one of the policy conditions was up to date health and safety planning. If he wasn’t I have some sympathy for him. Yet he should still have attended to the fire regulations, worst case scenario is an injury to someone trapped in the building, and no-one would have sympathised if that had happened.

We all think that it won’t happen to us. Even I did until my washing machine caught fire (quite common according to the brigade that put it out). The fire in Dean Street caused a complete evacuation in central London which prevented a total loss. I am now being asked about business continuity. A client of a business colleague was severely affected by this incident which started from nothing when an air conditioning unit started smoking and an electrical fire spread quickly. Here’s the BBC’s silent video of the incident.

Top Tip

Business Owners should address health and safety in order for their insurance cover to apply. Fire risk assessments are not hard to undertake.

See our Top Tips page for simple ways to help yourself today.