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The Top 8 Fire Safety Hazards for Bay Area Banks & Financial Buildings

The United States has gone through plenty of the most devastating fire seasons in the past decade.  An average of 6.54 million acres were ravaged by fires from 2010 to 2019. This has resulted in billions of dollars in losses. 

California has definitely not been spared losses due to fires. 1.3M fires were reported in the state in 2020. Also in 2020, a total of 4.2 million acres of land from north to south including highly populated areas were affected. 

Non-residential structure fires accounted for 8% of fires reported, causing 100 civilian deaths and 1,100 injuries, and $3.4B in property losses. 

These figures, while staggering, actually represent a significant decrease in the number of fires reported,  deaths and injuries, and property damage or losses. This is due to the heightened fire-preparedness and standards. 

However, with California about to experience hotter years ahead, it is projected that the fire season will become full-year and more intense.

 

What is the impact of fires on banks and financial institutions?

Believe it or not, California banks and financial institutions are very much affected by violent wildfires.  They have to have very good fire protection measures to ensure they are prepared for an intense fire season scenario.

Regulators are now looking into a bank’s fire disaster plan. The area of inquiry is how banks and financial buildings can continue to operate during a disaster, fires included. They want to make sure that bank branches and financial buildings, as well as their customers, are safe. 

The impact of fires on bank assets – people and buildings and the resources in it – can be devastating. Imagine having to deal with burnt money, melted gold, and the loss of lives. That’s not really something anyone would want to deal with.

 

What are the top fire safety hazards for banks and financial buildings?

Part of a bank’s fire disaster plan is knowing its areas of vulnerability to fires. The eight items below are some of the most common fire safety hazards for any bank.

  • The fire alarm system of the institution is not present or is not regularly checked if it is working.
  • There is a fire alarm system, but it is inadequate. When we say inadequate, the fire alarm, fire extinguishers, and sprinklers are not located in strategic areas in the buildings.
  • There are no proper fireproofing insulation and clean agent suppression tools.
  • The building design can also be a factor since some can prevent fire responders from accessing critical areas in your bank.
  • Bank safety features that secure resources such as financial items may not provide as much protection against fires. For example, super secure safes may not allow for a quick response time in case of any fire accidents.
  • The fire protection system may be high-end or may be the best, but the system doesn’t work with the design of the building itself. For example, walls are too thick, preventing infrared systems from detecting heat sources.
  • There is a lack of fire safety plans and measures for the building in the event of a fire. That’s also due to having not-so-good fire inspections.
  • There is no fire safety checklist.

 

How can banks secure their assets against fires?

Here are some ways banks can protect themselves, their employees, their assets, and their customers against fires.

 

Banks should conform to California building codes.

Check if the bank was constructed before the updated building code was put in place. If it is, you may have to check if your bank or financial building, especially its vulnerable areas and spaces, conforms to the latest building code. Otherwise, you might be facing a lot of problems in case a fire occurs.

Changes have been made to increase safety standards for new buildings. This includes ensuring that a building’s roofing, attic ventilation, exterior walls, decking floors, and other areas are up to standard. As a result of heightened structural fire safety, deaths and property damage or loss have declined over the years.

If it means the building has to be renovated to meet the codes, it should be done. Paying for renovations, repairs, and code violations is the least of your worries if a fire breaks out.

 

Find out the fire hazard severity zone of your immediate area.

There have been studies undertaken to analyze an area’s risk for fires. If your bank or financial building is located in an area of business with a very high fire hazard severity, then your vulnerability to fires is above normal. 

Measures should be in place to mitigate the damage that may be caused by a fire. Make sure that your place of business is as fire-proof as possible. Consult with your local fire marshalls or get the services of a fire protection company.

 

Bank officials or officers must have a working knowledge of the Bay Area Fire Plan.

Before installing fire prevention measures in your bank or financial building, you must be familiar with the Bay Area Fire Plan and its local hazard mitigation plan. These plans take into consideration the following elements in a particular area:

  • Ignition history
  • Historic fires
  • Asset attributes
  • Hazard layer

 

Develop a good working relationship with key stakeholders such as the fire safety councils and fire departments in your area. These networks are good sources of reliable information for updates on fire prevention and mitigation measures.

 

Find out the building’s vulnerability to fire.

One of the questions you need to ask is your bank’s vulnerability to fire. Some construction materials used in the making of your building are more resistant to fires. However, some design methods in your building may actually result in more fire hazards.

Therefore, it is important that you are familiar with your building’s attributes. For example, buildings with wood roofs and exposed eaves are more vulnerable to fires.

 

Be safe and secure with Fire Alarm Testing Inc.

Being prepared for fires is one of the most important initiatives your bank and financial building can undertake. That’s especially given the possibility of year-long and more intense fire seasons in California.

As a responsible professional, you know the value of seeking professional assistance for fire inspection in the Bay Area. You would want to ensure that the level of safety and protection for your banks’ structural assets against the threat of fires is very good. 

If you need a fire protection company, look no further than us at Fire Alarm Testing Inc. We are a California fire inspection company that can provide your bank with a high degree of fire safety and protection. Our company specializes in providing top-notch and reliable fire alarm system with our expert testing and monitoring services. 

Our team is made up of highly skilled and trained Bay Area fire inspection experts with one goal in mind – to keep your bank and financial building safe and secure. We have worked hard in establishing a solid track record in ensuring the reliability and worthiness of the fire alarm systems that we test and monitor.    

Make your bank, building, and business secure and protected against fires. Talk to us, and let us work together to fully secure your bank.