Wildfires in Canada are a growing concern, and their impact on businesses of all sizes can be devastating. 

As climate change continues to fuel extreme weather events, it’s more critical than ever for Canadian entrepreneurs and small business owners to protect their properties. 

The Rising Threat of Wildfires in Canada

Over the past few years, there’s been a surge in wildfire activity. According to National Resources Canada’s National Wildfire Situation Report, 5,449 fires were recorded in 2022, burning 1,610,216 hectares or 16,102 square kilometres of land.

A firefighter fighting a wildfire.

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Natural Resources Canada also says the annual average area burned by wildfires has more than doubled since the early 1970s. In 2021 alone, British Columbia experienced over 1,300 wildfires, with more than 8,700 square kilometres of land scorched. The financial repercussions are staggering, with damages and firefighting costs reaching billions.

But wildfires don’t discriminate; they can ravage rural and urban areas. As we saw in 2016 with the Fort McMurray wildfire, entire communities can be engulfed in flames, displacing thousands and causing billions in damages. No business is immune, so it’s essential to take action to protect your livelihood.

Wildfire Preparedness: Practical Tips for Business Owners

Here are five ways you can prepare your business property and try to prevent wildfire-related damage to it:

1. Assess Your Vulnerabilities

Start by identifying the risks specific to your location and industry. Are you situated in a region prone to wildfires? Is your business in a densely wooded area? Understanding your vulnerabilities will help you develop a targeted plan to mitigate risks.

2. Create a Wildfire Defence Zone

Establish a 30-metre wildfire defence zone around your property to reduce the likelihood of fire reaching your building. Clear combustible materials such as dry leaves, branches, and flammable chemicals, and trim trees to minimize ladder fuels. For added protection, consider fire-resistant landscaping with plants like succulents, which retain moisture and can help slow the spread of flames.

3. Implement Fire-Resistant Building Materials

Incorporate fire-resistant materials and construction techniques in your building. Choose non-combustible siding, install dual-pane tempered glass windows, and use fire-resistant roofing materials like metal or tile. Remember to seal gaps or cracks to prevent embers from infiltrating your structure.

4. Develop an Emergency Response Plan

An effective emergency preparedness response plan is crucial in the face of a wildfire. Train your employees on evacuation procedures, establish designated escape routes, and assign roles and responsibilities. Regularly update your plan and conduct drills to ensure everyone knows what to do during a wildfire.

5. Monitor Wildfire Activity in Your Province

Each province provides information on wildfire activity in their respective jurisdictions with situation reports as spring begins, including the status and location of wildfires, where fire restrictions and bans are, and wildfire prevention tips.

It’s wise for small business owners to keep abreast of wildfire activity in their communities. Here’s where you can find wildfire updates for your region:

Additional resources for wildfire tracking activity across Canada:

The Role of Business Insurance in Wildfire Protection

Commercial property insurance can be a vital tool in safeguarding your business from the financial fallout of a wildfire. This type of insurance includes coverage for damage and loss to your property, the contents in your building, and inventory resulting from fire.

Adequate coverage can help you rebuild and recover, but reviewing your policy carefully with a Zensurance broker is essential. We can ensure your policy includes coverage for wildfire-related losses and that your limits are sufficient to cover rebuilding costs and business interruption.

In light of recent wildfire trends, some insurance providers have begun to offer specialized wildfire insurance products. These policies may include features like proactive risk management services, on-site assessments and recommendations for reducing wildfire hazards. The right insurance coverage can provide peace of mind and help your business recover after a disaster.

Protecting Your Property and Assets

Wildfires pose a significant threat to Canadian businesses, and the increasing frequency and severity of these events make it imperative to act now. 

By assessing your risks, creating a wildfire defence zone, implementing fire-resistant building materials, and developing an emergency response plan, you can help shield your business from disaster. 

Don’t forget the importance of commercial property insurance in safeguarding your business. With the right strategy and coverage, you can weather the storm and keep your business thriving in the face of wildfire adversity.

Take a few minutes to complete an online application for a free commercial property insurance quote from Zensurance. We’ll find the low-cost business insurance policy you need to safeguard your business from a wide range of risks, including the threat of fire.

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About the Author: Brandon Bowie

Brandon Bowie is a Team Lead, Professional Lines at Zensurance.