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Fires Scorch Several Self-Storage Facilities

Amy Campbell

August 12, 2008

3 Min Read
Fires Scorch Several Self-Storage Facilities

Dozens of fire departments were called to the scene of a self-storage facility in New Jersey on Monday.

Although it's a wet summer in my corner of the country, the opposite is true for many areas of the West, where wildfires are scorching the forests and beyond. Today's self-storage news reported numerous facilities suffering a similar plight in alarming numbers. In fact, three self-storage sites succumbed to fire damage just yesterday alone.

According to one story, 16 storage units and their contents were scorched in a fire yesterday at AAAA Self Storage in Buford, Ga. The fire is under investigation and damages are still to be determined. A news report from Hawaii identified Metro Self Storage as the site of another fire yesterday, in which one unit caused $15,000 worth of damage to the facility itself, with another $2,000 in content damage.

A fire in New Jersey claimed more than 100 units yesterday morning, sending one firefighter to the hospital for severe smoke inhalation. Two self-storage buildings were engulfed in flames, according to city police at the scene in Hardyston.

Think fires strike other self-storage facilities and that your site is safe? So did Bob Van Zile, who owns the Advanced Self Storage in Hardyston, N.J., which was reduced to ashes yesterday. Zile lost three antique cars and other personal property in the blaze, totaling more than $100,000 in losses due to the blaze. No dollar amount was given for facility damage, but it's certain the site will no longer be operating for some time to come.

While fire safety should be at the top of every self-storage operator's priority list, many think that metal buildings and concrete pads are shields against flames and fire damage is a minimal concern. Unfortunately, this misinformation can cost a fortune, says Randy Tipton, owner of Universal Insurance Facilities, providers of specialized policies for self-storage facilities. In a recent article, Tipton states: "Metal buildings and concrete pads are key ingredients of many self-storage facilities. Some owners believe their facility could not, and will not, sustain a loss from fire because metal doesn’t burn and the concrete pad can’t be damaged. While we wish this were true, it’s not."

Why? Many people don't realized that extreme heat during a fire can distort metal buildings and crack concrete, inflicting complete structural devastation to a self-storage business. In addition, water damage and pollution cleanup pile on more costs. Replacement costs lump a heap onto the bill, not to mention the most oft-overlooked of fire coverages: business-income loss.

"Make sure you receive an extended period of indemnity to provide coverage after construction is complete and the facility is in the rent-up stage," advises  Tipton.

Want more tips for protecting your facility against fire and its aftermath? Check out archived articles at Inside Self-Storage and then talk to an educated insurance provider to make sure you've got your site and future business covered.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

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