An Operator's Guide for Dealing With Self-Storage Fire: Prevent, Plan, Protect

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Protect Your Business

If a fire does occur, the most important thing is to protect human lives; then protect property.  First, call 911. There’s no room for heroics when a fire has erupted. Get help immediately! The speed at which a fire can consume storage units is tremendous. Don’t hesitate even for a second. In the event of a fire, follow these steps:

Don’t panic. Sound the alarm and call the fire department, no matter how small the fire appears. Never attempt to fight even a small fire until everybody has been evacuated. Do not fight the fire if you’re unsure about the type of extinguisher or how to use it, or if the flames are spreading or blocking your escape.

Leave the area quickly. Close doors as you go to help contain the fire and smoke. Go to the nearest exit not blocked by the fire. Since heat and smoke rise, leaving cleaner air near the floor, crawl low under the smoke. Test doors before you open them. Feel the doorknob and the space between the door and the frame. If either is hot, use another escape route.            

Follow directions from fire and security personnel. Once outside, move away from the building, out of the way of firefighters. Remain outside until the fire department gives the “all clear” signal.
 
After a Fire

A fire is a very emotional and distressing situation for staff and tenants alike. Don’t leave the aftermath up to chance. Be organized. A planned and practiced response can help keep this event as controlled as possible. Staff should be trained on what to say and what not to say. As emotions run high, it’s important that nothing is miscommunicated.

Remember, this is an unusual and traumatic situation for employees. Their response can have a calming affect or make a bad situation even worse. Tenants will usually respond in kind to the atmosphere of a post-fire event. Owners and managers who maintain a composed and professional attitude will have an easier time dealing with the after effects. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Contact your insurance company immediately.
  • Deny, limit or control access to the affected area as needed.
  • Minimize visual impact quickly. Clean up, board up and repaint as the insurance company allows.
  • Coordinate a method of contacting tenants and others who may have been affected. 
  • Make arrangements for any exposed tenant goods to be secured.
  • Quickly replace or replenish any fire-fighting tools or equipment needed. 
  • Document everything. 
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