Recent Commercial Posts

What Are Some Common Workplace Fire Hazards in an Office Building?

9/1/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian highlights factors that can lead to a fire damage disaster in an office building.

Commercial fire damage is a concern for office complexes in Midlothian, TX. Business owners and property managers want to make sure that their facilities do not fall victim to the devastating effects of a fire.

According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), “During the five-year period of 2007-2011, NFPA estimates that U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 3,340 fires in office properties per year. These fires caused an annual average of four civilian deaths, 44 civilian fire injuries, and $112 million in direct property damage. The vast majority of the fires in this category were in business offices.”

The report, entitled “U.S. Structure Fires in Office Properties,” went on to offer the following observations: “Fewer fires occur in this occupancy on the weekends since they are less likely to be fully populated. The peak times of day for these fires were between noon and 2:00 p.m. Less than one-third of the fires (31%) occurred between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., but these fires accounted for 67% of the direct property damage. Similarly, 19% of fires occurred on weekends, but these incidents caused 31% of the associated property loss.”

A foundational aspect of fire safety is identifying potential fire hazards in a facility. Listed below are common sources of fire damage in an office complex.

Overloaded Power Strips and Sockets

When a power strip or electrical socket is overloaded, it can overheat and cause a fire. Use only one plug per electrical socket. Frontier Fire, a fire protection company, provides the following advice: “...you shouldn’t use more than 13amps or 3000 watts per power socket.” Also, beware of worn or malfunctioning extension cords.

Electrical Appliances and Equipment

Regularly check electrical devices for damage and wear. When these devices are not in operation, make sure they are turned off and unplugged. Do not let clutter accumulate near electrical equipment and keep paper and other combustible materials away from electrical devices.

Dust Buildup

Dust buildup can be an easily overlooked fire hazard. Clean up dust regularly, including in crevices and places that are out of sight. Be sure to keep dust away from devices that heat up as they are used, such as computers or microwaves.

Frontier Fire notes, “If there isn’t proper ventilation in your building and a fire occurs, the dust and debris can cause an explosion. That’s why you should always keep your office building clean. It’s also a good idea to invest in extraction fans, which can help clear the dust out of the air.”

Office Supplies

Materials like paper, plastic, and cardboard burn easily and enable fires to quickly ignite and spread. Keeping the workspace clean is a simple but effective fire prevention strategy. A corporate culture of tidiness and organization also ensures that the facility is easy to navigate and that exits are not blocked by clutter.

Flammable Substances and Liquids

A flammable liquid, a stack of copy paper, and a single spark can be a deadly combination. Flammable substances should be kept away from potential ignition sources. Store these substances in a cabinet or closet that is dry, ventilated, and securely locked. If a combustible liquid is spilled, the spill should be thoroughly cleaned up without delay.

Cigarette Usage

Careless smoking practices are a significant fire hazard, and an improperly extinguished cigarette can quickly ignite flammable materials. The office complex should set aside a designated smoking area located at a safe distance from the building and equipped with receptacles and ashtrays that smokers can safely deposit their cigarettes into.

Human Error

Human error and negligence on the part of the office building’s occupants are a real concern, especially when it comes to food preparation. The NFPA report mentioned above notes that over one in four office fires resulted from cooking equipment, and “over one-fifth (22%) of the reported fires in office properties began in the kitchen or cooking area…” The risks of human error can be combated by educating office personnel about the importance of paying attention to fire hazards and acting in a safe and responsible manner.

How to Deal with Commercial Fire Damage

From a preventative standpoint, business owners can make sure that proper safety strategies are implemented, including smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire escape equipment. The property manager may also want to secure the services of a fire protection company to analyze the building’s current fire safety protocols and systems and to inspect the premises for any potential fire hazards. Also, knowledge of fire safety tips, as well as the building’s evacuation plan, are indispensable for the office building’s occupants.

Once fire damage has occurred in the workplace, business owners do not want to find themselves caught in a situation where they have to choose a damage restoration company in the immediate aftermath of a fire damage disaster. The best approach is to prequalify a commercial fire damage restoration company before disaster strikes so that the business owner only has to make one call to the prequalified company in the event of fire damage.

For more details and information about Red Oak, TX, fire damage restoration services, contact SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian by email at acarey@SERVPRO10932.com. The office can also be reached by phone at (972) 935-0827.

How to Spot Signs of Secondary Water Damage in a Commercial Setting

6/10/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian explains the signs of advanced secondary water damage and how to prevent it.

The commercial water damage specialists at SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian know that a water damage disaster in a commercial setting can strike at any time with a sudden and dramatic impact, disrupting the provision of services or the production of goods at a business or factory. In contrast, a water damage disaster can also result from a slow leak in the sprinkler system or roof that goes unnoticed and unresolved for days or months.

What are the two types of water damage?

Facility repairs for a water damage disaster can be disruptive, time-consuming, and expensive. Business owners, operations managers, facility supervisors, and property managers need to be aware of the two types of water damage. Both types of water damage create different challenges and should be resolved immediately for the sake of the business, employees, vendors, and customers.

  • Primary water damage: This damage is the result of the initial water intrusion. Signs of primary water damage include wet or moist flooring, warped sheetrock or drywall, wet furniture, brown or yellow stains on ceilings and walls, and collapsed ceiling tiles.
  • Advanced secondary water damage: When primary damage is hidden, neglected, or not completely resolved, advanced secondary water damage may occur. Signs of this type of water damage include advanced warping of walls and ceilings, bubbling or peeling paint, and significant staining and streaking on vertical and horizontal surfaces. Structural issues such as rotted wood support beams, black mold, and warped flooring are common.

What are the unintended consequences of delaying water damage repairs?

When water damage issues are left unattended, the consequences can be costly and dangerous. Business owners know the pressures of deadlines. Sometimes margins are minuscule. Customer service and on-time delivery are what win service or manufacturing contracts. Circumstances sometimes require working in and around water damage to meet customer demands. However, the potential negative consequences of laboring in an environment compromised by a water intrusion loom large for the employer. Consider the following consequences:

  1. Slip-and-fall accident resulting in a settlement.

An industry expert reported, “Commercial insurer CNA reports that between 2007 and 2012, the average cost of a traumatic brain injury in a general liability claim was $269,643. The average cost of a traumatic brain injury in workers’ comp claims was $259,153. Individual cases can be much higher.”

  1. Loss of raw materials needed in the manufacturing process. The introduction of moisture outside the production process can ruin the raw materials required to manufacture the business’s product line. A fifty-five-gallon drum of raw material may cost thousands of dollars to replace.
  2. Electronic devices in the office or on the production floor can suffer a cataclysmic failure when exposed to moisture or wetness.
  3. Production line equipment, forklifts, and delicate conveyor line sensors can be damaged by sudden, continuous, or intermittent exposure to moisture or water.
  4. Mold issues can corrupt product integrity and cause health effects. Commercial water damage restoration is a complex process. Business owners and those individuals tasked with facility repair and maintenance should secure the services of a reputable, qualified, and certified commercial water damage restoration company. If an incompetent company fails to fully resolve the water and moisture issues, secondary damage in the form of a mold infestation can occur.

Products contaminated with black mold and shipped all over the country could possibly cause infestations along the entire supply chain. The product liability nightmare could spell the demise of a small business, distribution center, or manufacturing unit.

How can these potential consequences be minimized or prevented?

Here are several best practices businesses should follow when dealing with primary and secondary water damage issues.

  1. Foster a corporate culture in the workforce that encourages early reporting and immediate resolution of any water intrusion events.
  2. Alert the pre-qualified water damage restoration company and schedule an immediate response. This step assumes a disaster plan is in place, performance criteria are in force, and a competent team of mitigation and restoration professionals has been vetted. This step also assumes that the selected company knows the facility and the parameters surrounding the presence of non-employee personnel in the facility. Corporate policy sometimes restricts the use of video on the grounds of or within the facility. Images and video may be essential for job performance verification, quality assurance, and insurance claims validation. A competent, experienced water damage restoration team will identify these challenges and resolve them before a fire, smoke, water, flood, mold, or storm damage disaster strikes.
  3. Do not release the water damage disaster team until the restoration is completed.
  4. Take steps to prevent any secondary water damage. Follow up with an inspection shortly after the restoration is complete to ensure mold infestation is not an issue.

These steps highlight the importance of working with a property damage restoration company that has the experience, training, and professionalism required to operate at the commercial level.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian has been serving the area since 2000. The company is locally owned and backed by a nationwide system of qualified franchises. Being centrally located in Ellis County means that the response teams are within a thirty-minute drive or less of any location in the community. The restoration experts specialize in residential, commercial, and large-scale disaster cleanup and restoration.

For more information about Midlothian, TX, commercial water damage restoration, contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827 or email acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.

Ten Tips to Help Local Business Owners Prepare for Flood Damage

4/12/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian urges local businesses to make flood damage preparations.

Waxahachie businesses are no strangers to commercial flood damage resulting from severe weather. In 2015, flood waters overflowed a portion of the downtown area. A local news outlet described the situation, stating, “It was a sleepless night for business owners and police in old Downtown Waxahachie. College Street flooded during the storm, stranding two motorists and forcing police to close a block of the road at the peak of the rainfall. Several businesses, a restaurant, and the police department took in water. Long-time residents say it was the worst flooding in at least a decade.”

In light of this disaster and the potential for more severe weather in the area, SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian urges business owners to follow the recommendations listed below to reduce the likelihood of flood damage to their businesses.

  1. Determine if the business is susceptible to flooding.

Check to see what flood zone the business is located in. Is the area prone to flooding? Learn the base flood elevation (BFE) for the property. The base flood elevation is the depth of floodwaters for a “100-year flood.” A business’s lowest floor needs to be three feet above the BFE to ensure that the structure is safe from flooding when severe weather strikes.

If the business is not located in a designated flood plain and has never historically suffered flood damage, then the location is most likely safe. However, area construction may have created new flood damage risks that the business owner needs to be aware of.

  1. Implement dry floodproofing strategies.

A building in or near a flood-prone area can utilize several dry floodproofing techniques to make the structure watertight and dry during a flood event.

  • Stockpile flood-protective materials and products which aid in diverting water away from the building. Items include water-absorbent barriers and sandbags. Plastic sheeting or tarps are effective for relatively shallow flooding.
  • Water-filled barriers that can be connected and stacked can be deployed at large commercial doors or entranceways that are exposed to deeper floodwaters.
  • Install moveable flood gates, submarine doors, or permanent swing flood doors where the water depths are expected to be greater.
  • Permanent flood walls that surround the entire structure may be necessary for areas where flooding is frequent, deep, and prolonged.
  1. Obtain flood insurance.

Businesses in or near a high-risk flood zone should purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance is provided through the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and can be purchased through private insurance agents and companies.

  1. Landscape with native plants that will aid in flood water drainage.

Landscape with native plants and vegetation, which can help prevent soil erosion and allow floodwaters to drain more efficiently.

  1. Elevate electrical components, the HVAC system, and valuable records and documents above the BFE of the property.

Hire a licensed electrician to raise electrical switches, wiring, sockets, and circuit breakers at least one foot higher than the base flood elevation for the area. Following this tip will prevent flood waters from damaging the electrical system and will reduce the risk of fire from short circuits in flooded systems. Floodproof HVAC and ventilation equipment to prevent damage. Hire an HVAC contractor to relocate the equipment to an upper floor or enclose the systems with a floodproof wall.

  1. Add an extra layer of protection to the facility by using flood-resistant materials, sealing cracks, and applying a waterproof coating to walls.

In new construction and remodels, use flood-resistant materials where possible. Floor coverings, wall coverings, and wall insulation that is flood-resistant can withstand direct exposure to water and moisture for at least seventy-two hours without suffering significant damage.

  1. Invest in a generator and a sump pump.

Having backup electrical power can improve recovery time. Secure reserve power sources for any equipment deemed vital to resuming business operations. Install a sump pump with a battery backup, and include a sump pump backup that runs off of water pressure in case the power goes out or the influx of water exceeds what the primary unit can handle. Schedule regular maintenance and testing of the backup power system.

  1. Securely anchor fuel tanks.

Floating fuel tanks can damage buildings, vehicles, and equipment. If the tanks damage other properties or cause an environmental hazard, the business owner may face fines, property damage repairs, or litigation.

  1. Make sure that downspouts funnel water away from the building.

When downspouts fail to direct water a sufficient distance from the building’s foundation, the moisture can seep through the foundation, causing flooding, structural damage, and mold. If the area flooded is a basement or parking garage where equipment, products, and vehicles are kept, the impact could be catastrophic.

  1. Identify a damage restoration company that is highly experienced in commercial water damage restoration.

Prepare for any disaster by pre-qualifying a water, fire, smoke, and flood damage restoration company that can handle a commercial property damage incident. A flood damage disaster may involve fire, smoke, mold, and hazardous chemicals. Commercial cleaning services will be needed once the water is removed and the damage repaired. The environment must be safe, clean, and sanitary before operations can fully resume.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian has been providing commercial damage restoration services since 2000. The team of restoration experts specializes in residential, commercial, and large-scale disaster cleanup and restoration.

For more information about commercial damage restoration in Waxahachie, TX, contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827 or email acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.

What Impact Does Water Damage in a Commercial Facility Have on Property Insurance?

2/8/2021 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian helps businesses understand the impact of water damage on commercial property insurance.

At any time and without warning, a commercial water damage disaster can strike, filling the business owner’s life with stress and worry. The team at SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian lives and works in this community. When local businesses suffer water damage, fire damage, or smoke damage due to any size disaster, the SERVPRO professionals are the premier cleanup and restoration company in the region who can quickly restore the damaged commercial building.

Businesses and institutions were confronted with water damage challenges in 2020 that will extend into the foreseeable future due to labor shortages and poor quality of workmanship.

According to a corporate-level manager overseeing the large property loss division for a major insurance company, “Water damage is one of the largest loss causes we deal with in the commercial insurance industry, yet only a small percentage of clients have a formal Water Damage Prevention Plan in place. Those with higher exposures should have plans to both prevent an incident and to mitigate the severity of loss should one occur.”

Common Causes of Water Damage in a Commercial Setting

Aging plumbing systems and sprinkler systems that have been poorly or improperly maintained can cause significant property damage resulting in disruption of business operations. Sprinkler system discharge causes more severe damage to multi-story buildings where the water can rapidly travel from floor to floor. Plumbing failures, though more gradual, can also cause water damage across many floors of a building. Both sources of water commonly damage physical property and the contents, including furniture, flooring, equipment, product, and raw materials.

The severity of the loss depends on the origin of water, how swiftly the issue is recognized, and the type of contents that are damaged.

Damage analysis reveals that small amounts of water can cause significant losses. Examples include:

  • High-value equipment such as electronics, computers, or circuit boards
  • The vertical risk loss multiplier - Water damage to multiple floors could involve demolition, repair, and replacement of flooring, ceilings, and walls on multiple floors.
  • Property evacuation that results in litigation, the forfeiture of rental income, or the departure of tenants
  • Production and fabrication equipment - Production interruptions incur direct and indirect losses such as short-term revenue interruption or the loss of customers. Customer acquisition costs, which can be substantial, are often overlooked or underestimated by businesses.

The scale of these losses often hinges upon a business’s preparation to respond to the disruption. Lethargy translates into losses. A rapid, focused response reduces losses.

Plan to Succeed When Faced With a Commercial-Sized Water Damage Disaster

Effective protection and mitigation strategies to protect against interior and exterior water damage encompass simple but critical action steps.

  • Identify and understand the nature of exposures to damage.
  • Take proactive measures to avoid water damage to production/fabrication machinery, product inventory, raw materials, tools, electronics, data storage stations, etc.
  • Schedule regular building maintenance that addresses the upkeep of potential sources of water damage, such as plumbing and sprinklers. A component of this maintenance protocol should include searching for hidden water damage or deterioration resulting from a minute or slow water intrusion.
  • Swiftly execute well-planned and practiced remediation strategies in the event of a water intrusion event.

How Are Insurance Companies Responding to Commercial Water Damage Claims?

Many insurance companies are implementing approaches that facilitate the creation of a culture in the commercial setting that fosters prevention, identification, and rapid response to stop the water intrusion and repair the damage before the occurrence of advanced secondary water damage, including mold and mildew infestation.

Achievement of this worthy goal includes the provision of risk engineering for clients. Businesses and industries will be subject to more stringent compliance requirements for coverage. Ongoing facility maintenance and the implementation of water leak detection technology may be components of these tighter requirements. Finally, business and industry may experience increased coverage premiums for compliance deficiencies.

The professionals at SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian have formal training to recognize water damage liability exposures and consult with businesses regarding risk improvement strategies. Having a Ready Plan is crucial for every business.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian has been serving the area since 2000, and the company is locally owned and backed by a nationwide system of qualified franchises. Being centrally located in Ellis County means that the team is within a thirty-minute drive or less of any location in the community. The restoration experts specialize in residential damage restoration, commercial damage restoration, and large-scale disaster cleanup and restoration.

For more information about commercial water damage restoration in Waxahachie, TX, contact the office by phone at (972) 935-0827 or email acarey@SERVPRO10932.com.