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The National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2012, fires caused a total of 12.4 billion dollars in property damage throughout the United States. You may think that kind of tragic and profit-harming situation won't happen to you, but it's impossible to be sure. Why take the risk? Think smarter and follow the tips below to prepare your business and employees for potential fires.

Hire a Fire Consultant

Check to see if there is a specialty company in your community that can gauge whether your business has an unusual number of risk factors that would make fire damage more likely to occur. Besides checking to see if those characteristics exist, the professionals can also advise whether your exit routes make it as easy as possible to escape in the event of an emergency.

Get Insured

Hopefully, insurance is one of the first things you purchased after getting your business up and running. If not, there's no better time than right now to invest in it. Rather than viewing it as something that's expensive and may never be used, think of how things would be if you found yourself at the other end of the spectrum with your company's building reduced to mere ash and rubble. In some cases, you may be able to write off the cost of insurance as a business expense while doing your taxes, so be sure to bring up that possibility with your accountant or tax adviser.

Know the Location of Your Nearest Fire Station

Most insurance companies will require you to note the location of your nearest firehouse and fire hydrant when applying for insurance. However, even if those questions aren't asked of you, it's good to know the answer so you can get an idea of the average response time if a fire occurs.

Make Your Business Easy to Access and Find

Fire crews could lose precious time if your business is unnecessarily hard to locate or access. Keep in mind professionals will come to your location with brush trucks, ladder trucks and other specialty vehicles. Some may be very large and require a great deal of space to get close enough to your building. If you're curious about what some of the specialized fire vehicles look like, check out some that are sold by retailers such as

Besides making it as easy as possible for those vehicles to get to wherever the fire is, ensure the exterior of the building is clearly marked with a number and street name. You may be under the impression fire crews should be able to see and smell a fire before actually reaching the building, and sometimes that's true. However, those indicators are not always present. Be safe and practical by installing address signs on the outside of your business premises to eliminate any doubts about where you're located.

These suggestions could protect your property and keep employees safer too. Use the information above as guidance if you've determined there are more things you could be doing to prepare for the possibility of fires at your place of business.

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