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Disaster Preparedness

How to Prepare Your Business for a Wildfire

Do you work in an area vulnerable to wildfires? These are precautions you can take to respond safely and effectively – before, during and after the event.   

Make sure your business has an emergency response plan. 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends developing a disaster response plan for your business ahead of a wildfire. 

  • Create a planning team. You should bring together personnel from multiple levels of the business, from labor to upper management. 
  • Conduct a vulnerability analysis. Figure out how prepared your company is to respond to a wildfire, and then identify the areas where you can improve. 
  • Develop an emergency plan that you hand out to your employees. This can also include any existing plan your building has for wildfires.
  • Make sure your employees know how to get ahold of first responders in case of an emergency. 

For more detailed instructions on how to develop this plan, see recommendations from FEMA here.

Have an evacuation plan in place.

Wildfires can occur suddenly. Prevent injuries and avoid confusion with an evacuation plan your employees are familiar with. Include: 

  • When and how you’ll evacuate if you’re at work. 
  • Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits.
  • Procedures to account for personnel, customers and visitors. 
  • Any emergency responsibilities, as well as who will carry them out.

Lower the risk of fire reaching your property. 

You can decrease the risk of fire reaching your building by clearing out flammable materials within 30 to 70 feet of the property. 

  • Take care to avoid overhead lines, maintaining at least a 10-foot clearance. 
  • You should also get rid of, or reduce, vegetation in this area. 
  • Remove shrubs or branches within 15 feet of chimneys or stovepipes. 
  • Frequently mow grass and replace plants with fire-resistant species.

Read more about wildfires and creating safety zones from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 

Get the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for you and your team.

If your team is planning to get back to work in the aftermath of a wildfire, make sure you have the right PPE. NIOSH recommends general PPE that you should build upon and adapt, depending on the specifics of your work environment. 

  • Eye protection
  • Hearing protection
  • Protective clothing
  • Respirators 

Want to learn more about PPE? Visit NIOSH for recommendations.

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