Wildfires, nature’s unpredictable force, have been wreaking havoc across landscapes, with businesses, homes, and local economies bearing the brunt of their fury.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the United States had 58,950 wildfires that burned 10,122,336 acres in 2020, with a total suppression cost of $2.19 billion for federal agencies. Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service predicted that the cost of fire suppression would increase to nearly $1.8 billion by 2025.
British Columbia (BC), Canada, known for its pristine campgrounds and vast natural landscapes, has been no stranger to the devastating effects of wildfires. Private campground owners and operators in BC have faced significant challenges, from property damage to halted tourism activities, affecting their livelihood and the province’s economy.
A well-prepared business can mitigate the risks associated with wildfires. According to Leavitt Recreation & Hospitality Insurance’s Wildfire Preparedness Guide for Businesses, the cornerstone of this preparedness is a robust Business Continuity Plan.
This plan, which surprisingly many businesses lack, outlines strategies to restore critical operations during unforeseen disruptions. It encompasses a business impact analysis, recovery strategies, plan development, and regular testing and training sessions.
Insurance plays a pivotal role in safeguarding a business’s assets. Regular reviews ensure that the coverage is comprehensive, accounting for potential damages, business interruptions, and any additional expenses that might arise.
The plan also underscored the importance of property protection. Creating defensible spaces around the property, using fire-resistant materials, and regular maintenance like cleaning roofs and gutters can significantly reduce the risk of damage. Moreover, upgrading to double-paned windows with tempered glass and covering vents with mesh screens can offer added protection against radiant heat and airborne embers.
For campgrounds in BC, these measures are not just best practices but necessities. The province’s unique topography, combined with its dense forests, makes it particularly susceptible to wildfires.
Campground owners must also prioritize the safety of their guests and staff. This involves creating a comprehensive wildfire evacuation plan, maintaining open lines of communication, and ensuring the availability of emergency supplies.
During a wildfire, staying updated with alerts, activating the business continuity plan, and ensuring the safety of all on the premises are paramount. Once the immediate threat has passed, the focus shifts to assessing damage, securing the area, and initiating repairs.