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Maintain your electrical systems to reduce your risk of fires

Man testing electrical control panelAn electrical system maintenance strategy can be an effective, low-cost way to reduce your risk of an electrical fire. It can also help you discover the signs of a potential problem before disaster strikes.

The loss*

A business’s primary building suffered a major fire after hours, starting in a secondary power panel in an older section of the building. Because the area didn’t have sprinklers or a fire detection system, the fire burned uninterrupted for nearly an hour until a passerby noticed it.

The fire destroyed the building, including machinery and all contents. That added up to $4.8 million in damages and nearly $1 million in business interruption costs. Additionally, indirect costs approached $700,000. These expenses included deductibles, copayment terms, customer loss, reputation damage, and replacing essential employees who left due to a year-long recovery.

The lesson

Fire officials determined the fire was caused by wiring that arced due to loose component connections. Had a qualified electrician performed routine, regular inspections, the problem likely would’ve been found before the fire occurred.

*Facts are representative of claims that occur throughout the property and casualty industry and aren’t based upon any specific individual or entity.

Prevention strategies

There are ways you can help reduce the risk of electrical fires to your business. Review your current maintenance and inspection program, and implement these tips:

  • Have a licensed electrician inspect your building’s electrical system every five years and perform any recommended repairs or upgrades. While the scope of the inspection should be determined by a professional contractor, you may want to consider evaluating:
    • Power panel components, grounding and bonding, and electrical cable connections
    • Receptacles and light fixtures
    • Load demands on system branches
    • Heat-generating equipment controls and installations
    • Temporary electrical services
  • Consider completing a comprehensive infrared scan of system components and critical machinery.
  • Allow only qualified employees or contractors to install and energize equipment and machinery.
  • Complete annual inspections and maintenance on electrical systems, heating systems, and heat-producing equipment.
  • Install centrally monitored heat or smoke detection technology to ensure local fire officials receive a prompt notice if a fire starts.

We’re here to help

We’re committed to helping you protect your business and your employees by providing resources that can help you manage loss-producing situations. If you have any questions, give us a call at 800-851-7740. Ask for Loss Control & Safety Services. You can find additional safety resources by visiting hortica.com. You can also talk with your Hortica representative. We’re here to help.

Related links:

For more information on safety preparation for your business, check out the Hortica Resources section.

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