The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Business Continuity Insurance – Part 19

April 29, 2019 1:20 pm

LWF’s blog series for those who work in facilities management or who have a responsibility for or an interest in fire safety has been looking how the insurance industry has influenced fire safety precautions and guidance in business. In part 18, we discussed the changing landscape of business in the 1970s, with the introduction of electronics and data storage. In part 19, we will discuss how businesses can protect themselves against interruption from fire.


While it might be assumed that a business interruption contingency plan could be formed by simply inspecting the current building and the facilities contained within, it is necessary instead to approach the issue from the point of view of a business continuity fire risk assessment. The person or team who undertake the process must have a thorough understanding of the business, any existing emergency plans or contingency plans and be able to analyse and mitigate against any areas of vulnerability upon which the business depends.


In the case of a manufacturing environment, the process will involve undertaking discussions with production personnel as well as, potentially, the company’s financial and marketing specialists. As a ‘for instance’, it would be no good to base a plan on the current modus operandi if the management team were planning on moving away from a loss-making area of the business to concentrate fully on a more productive line.


A halting of a certain line of production because of a fire can lead to shortages of that product being available to the end consumer. The marketing team will be able to advise if that shortage would result in lost profit for as long as the product is not available, but it would revert to form once it was once more available, or if it was one of many products available and did not distinguish itself in which case, once a consumer has had to switch brands, they may not switch back even when it is available once more.


A simple example might be if a man usually goes to the same fast food chain for lunch each day but for a week it doesn’t have his favourite burger sauce and so cannot produce the lunch he normally has. He may go elsewhere or he may have something different for lunch. When that week is up, if the product is distinct enough (e.g. a Big Mac) he will revert to his normal purchasing habits, if it is not (a standard cheeseburger he can get elsewhere, perhaps), a permanent loss of market share can result.


In part 20, we will continue looking at those issues which must factor into safeguarding against potential loss. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0800 410 1130.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.



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