Wildfires spread fast. They move at a pace of up to 12.5 miles per hour, and they cause a staggering amount of damage.
Last year, Colorado suffered 967 wildfires, which burned 111,667 acres of land. The costliest in Colorado history, the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire resulted in $450 million in insurance losses.
Already forecasters are predicting this could be the state’s worst wildfire season in at least five years, following an unusually dry winter.
Protecting your workers and your workplace against this summer hazard should be a priority. Here are six ways you can keep your employees safe in the face of an encroaching wildfire.
1. Establish evacuation routes.
Choose well-lit routes and designate exits where people should leave the building in the event of a wildfire evacuation. Make the instructions as specific as possible, and post them in a place where all employees have access to them.
2. Create an emergency action plan.
If you do not already have an emergency action plan for wildfires, make one. Here is what it should cover:
- Plans for employees who stay behind during an evacuation to shut down the plant or provide other critical emergency services.
- An overview of duties expected of employees designated to provide medical support.
- An assembly location where employees should gather post-evacuation.
3. Put someone in charge of declaring an evacuation.
In the event of a wildfire, one of your employees should monitor the news and weather reports and determine whether a workplace evacuation is necessary. Direct them to use the Colorado State Forest Service’s Current Wildfire & Information & Fire Restrictions and Colorado Wildfire Information Resource Center to guide their decision-making.
4. Make an employee alert system.
Come up with a way to alert employees in the event of an evacuation. Ideas include an alert on a public address system, via smartphones or on portable radio units. Make the alarm auditory, visual and tactile, if possible, to alert all employees.
5. Create defensible space zones around your building.
Adding defensible space to your landscaping can limit the damage of wildfires. “Defensible space” refers to the area between your business structure and the encroaching fire. Selecting the right plants, trees and mulches for this space can reduce or slow a fire’s burn rate. You want the area largely clear of flammable and combustible materials. The Disaster Safety site offers a detailed description of how to add defensible space zones along with a list of the best greenery options for the Rocky Mountain region.
6. Consult Pinnacol’s Fire Safety Inspection Checklist.
A fire within your building could spark a fast-spreading wildfire. Consult our checklist to ensure you are prepared to deal with any fire that may occur.
Questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.