The recent fire at a Wellington self storage facility again highlights that members need to be very vigilant and focused on risk management. The SSAA and our industry at large are concerned for the owners at Kiwi Self Storage and the many customers who lost goods in the fire. We are very glad that no one was seriously hurt, but saddened by the loss to the owners, the staff and the customers. It is always easy with the 20×20 “retro-specto- scope” to be wise. However this fire is a timely reminder to all members to review how they deal with these risk issues.
Please, review your overall emergency procedures NOW:
• Check your insurance covers, review and refresh the levels of cover and management of insurance
• Ensure your staff are fully prepared to implement evacuation procedures and the procedures for protection of life and property
• Monitor and review your fire protection systems and ensure the currency of your systems and procedures
• Assess how you monitor access to your site, especially after hours access
• Consider live site monitoring
• Ensure the security and back up of access control and your video surveillance.
• Remind your customers of the value of taking customers goods insurance
In terms of insurance we strongly urge our members to check your policies of cover and use a reliable and professional broker. The current sums insured, extent of your covers and capacity to claim in the case of an incident is crucial. Aon and Midland Insurance are two long-standing supporters of SSAA members with the requisite expertise to assist with insurance needs as required. Use them if your current broker doesn’t have the skill set to assist you.
Staff training is ongoing. A map on site or a set of rules for evacuation are useless unless read, understood and practiced. Owners and Directors stand liable if they haven’t taken proper steps. Do it now. Life health and safety is the most important issue for any operators! Have a crisis management plan on hand to deal with questions from emotional and potentially disgruntled storers and members of the Press who likely will come looking for answers about the cause and effect of such unforeseen events. Importantly, don’t speculate on matters that are the subject of further investigation i.e. fire investigators on site assessing the likely cause of the fire.
Ensure that the systems on your site are regularly tested and monitored. It’s too late if they fail in a fire. If you use fire compartments, smoke detection or sprinklers check that they are adequate, are monitored and that your response systems are best practice.
Finally, just spend some time on the “what ifs”. By doing so you can quickly determine how you would content with the disaster faced by our member in Wellington. Invest now in good practices and reap ongoing rewards.