Loss Control of Vacant Building by Glenn Peterson

As we continue to conduct business in these difficult economic times, it may be necessary to temporarily shutter or close down certain operations/buildings. When doing so, there are a number of things you should consider:
· Businesses should consider using the services of a watchperson or security service. Any such persons should be trained in emergency procedures including knowing how to notify the local fire department, the locations and operation of existing portable fire extinguishers and, if applicable, the locations of sprinkler system water supply control valves.
· Vacant facilities should be checked after any severe weather events.
· Limit access to those employees who have a business need to visit the premises. Notify watchpersons, if any, when entering and leaving the premises.
· If possible, existing automatic sprinkler protection systems should remain in service. Sufficient building heat should be maintained during cold weather periods to prevent freezing of the sprinkler systems. An alternative would be to convert wet systems to dry systems.
· It may be advisable to remove combustible storage, flammable liquids and hazardous chemicals (if any) from the buildings and drain/cap-off flammable liquid piping. If combustible materials and idle production equipment will remain, they should be located in secured areas. Also, consider removing all outside combustible storage (idle wooden pallets, etc.) and flammable materials.
· All sprinkler system water supply control valves should be maintained in the full-open position using hard shackle locks.
· A management level employee should make regular inspections of the buildings and visual checks of the sprinkler system water supply control valves.
· The facility should be kept in repair and grounds maintained so the buildings do not become targets for vandals.
· Regular self-inspections of the sprinkler systems, water supply control valves, fire extinguishers and building conditions should be conducted.
· All unnecessary electrical equipment and gas-fired appliances should be shut down at the main disconnect points. Outside supply lines should be shut in, as appropriate.
· Cutting and welding operations should be conducted only when absolutely necessary, should be strictly supervised, and should be conducted under the terms and conditions of hot work permits/programs.
· Smoking should be prohibited throughout the buildings.
· All existing fire doors should be maintained in their closed positions.
· Attractive nuisance issues should be addressed.
· Those responsible for insuring the building(s) should review their policies to determine when, and what types of notices, must be given to their insurers relative to vacancy. Many property insurance policies contain such notice requirements. Also of note is that insurance coverage for vacant buildings may be reduced or restricted; refer to your specific policy for details.

Bank Safety & Soundness Advior’s December newsletter quotes EWI’s Scott Uhl. See Scott’s insightful comments in the link below.

Bank Safety & Soundess Advisor December Newsletter