Wildfire season in the United States typically runs in the western states from May through September, but the threat of a wildfire exists wherever there are wildland or wilderness areas throughout the year. A comprehensive emergency plan communicated and tested with your personnel helps minimize loss to your business. FEMA, OSHA and NIOSH have published recommendations on building preparedness plans.
- Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and consider automatic sprinkler systems, fire hoses and fire-resistant doors and walls.
- Establish a process for alerting the fire department.
- Develop and test an emergency plan with your employees, including evacuation procedures.
- Create a "safety zone" around your building by removing combustible material.
- Avoid open burning, especially close to structures or any flammable materials, including trees, brush, trash, or during the dry season.
- Make sure you have copies of all important documents and photographs of all critical assets stored safely offsite in fire-resistant containers.
Escaping the Fire
- Do not lock your facility. Firefighters may need to gain quick entry to fight the fire.
- If you are trapped inside, stay away from outside walls.
- If you are outside and cannot escape the area, find a depression with sparse fuel or a road, and lie face down. Cover yourself with anything that will shield you from the fire's heat.
- If you or someone with you is burned, call 911; cool and cover burns to reduce chance of further injury or infection.
Returning to Your Facility
- Check the roof for any fires or embers.
- If you detect heat or smoke when entering, leave immediately.
- Routinely check for smoke and sparks that may ignite for several hours after the fire.
- If you have a safe or strong box, do not open it. These can hold intense heat for several hours, and if opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames.
- Do not return to your facility until local authorities report that it is safe to do so.
- When you do return, wear protective clothing and check with local officials about air quality before entering the area.
- Document damage to your facility and photograph all damage and compare to photographs and documents taken before the fire.
- Report damage to your insurance company.
Emergency Management Programs