Are Temporary Security Fences Essential After a Commercial Fire?
When you experience a commercial fire, there are several steps you should take to help protect your property and community. If construction or demolition is required as a result of the fire, it can present a potential hazard to the public. As a result, you are required to install a temporary security fence to help protect people from danger. A temporary fence also provides a more secure area to keep unauthorized people out. Here’s why a temporary security fence is required following a commercial fire.
What is Required at the Site?
In a case where your building is closed to the public due to fire damage, it is in your best interest to install a temporary fence. If the damage is severe, it is also advisable to block off all entrances and windows with boarding or barricades to help keep people out. Depending on the location of your building, the requirements for your perimeter fence will vary. Therefore you should consult local safety code legislation and regulations. Keep in mind most insurance policies will also require you to take action to prevent further damage. Speak to your broker so you can take immediate action to avoid insurance claim rejection.
Consider the Damage
The severity of the damage might also lead to issues beyond the physical building. These areas should also have security/perimeter fencing to bring attention to possible hazards such as:
- 1.  Spoil piles and water-filled areas in or around the site
- 2.  Material and debris blocking sidewalks and roads
- 3.  Equipment delivered to assist in the demolition or repairs of the building
- 4. Unstable areas such as soil or structures associated with the business such as planters, awnings, etc.
Anything else that might be in the path of the public should also be blocked off. In the case where damage goes beyond your property, check regulations to see if you are responsible for perimeter fencing there as well. Should the debris be removable, it is your responsibility to ensure all pathways are clear.
Building/business owners have a responsibility to ensure the fence is checked on a regular basis. This avoids being open to possible lawsuits or insurance claim rejection. Fence inspections should be made daily, with documentation and time lined images to show the fence was intact.
Fences must be sturdy enough to withstand high winds. Although your fence cannot block amenities, if damage from the fire does include public trees or street features, it is important to speak to the town or city to understand whether or not you are responsible to block these areas off, or if it lies on the city/town to do so. When workers are onsite the fence can remain open. However, when the property is unattended the fence must remain secure. It cannot have any gaps that would provide access. It must be in place prior to any work beginning and remain until the site has been inspected and approved to reopen.
In the case where the fire damage goes beyond your property, or where fence installation requires your fencing team must enter neighbouring properties be sure to have permission to do so. This will avoid any claims your fence caused damage to other properties. Also, be sure to contact a Fire Safety Codes Officer to inspect your fencing to ensure it will not interfere with emergency services access.
Reducing Liability Risks
Your temporary fence will protect you against liabilities that might arise based on injuries or damages alleged to occur on your property. This is important, as these types of claims can interfere with your own insurance claim to recover from the fire. As mentioned, insurance companies expect you to protect people and your property from further damage once a fire occurs. If not, they can reject your claim.
Trespassers might be tempted to enter the site either out of curiosity or to find opportunities for theft. A security fence keeps unauthorized people out, while also protecting passersby from wandering into the site by accident. Although restrictions might keep you from accessing your valuables, thieves might be willing to risk their lives or potential injury to find merchandise or equipment still intact. Vandals might also be attracted to the site and figure they can add to the damage by smashing windows or even damage charred remains providing structural support. This could lead to serious injury and costly damage.
Having proper security fencing will avoid further issues with your property while you wait for repairs and construction to being. Temporary fences keep the property and the community safe while meeting the provisions of your insurance policy.