Fire scenes often involve all types of public entities: emergency medical, law enforcement, and fire services. Public utilities such as gas and electric companies may also be involved. Passersby, owners, tenants, customers, delivery agents all may have relevant information on what happened. The press and curious individuals attracted to large fire scenes can complicate investigations, making security a necessity. All of these entities can cause a large loss to spiral out of control very quickly.
Increased complications occur when the loss is at a multi-tenant site due to:
- Multiple tenants involved
- Several insurers involved
- Multiple points of access
- The mitigation takes longer
- Property managers could be involved
- Numerous experts onsite as well as various agencies
- Higher exposure to liabilities
- Tenant safety issues
- Problems with asbestos
- Fire watches may be required
- Escorting and tracking systems may be necessary
When more people have access to the site, protecting the valuables that survived a fire becomes more of a concern. Theft of even the smallest item can impede evidence continuity in a case. If an insured wants to return to a scene to recover belongings, their every move must be authorized and recorded, to protect evidence for court. A well-secured scene ensures all items remain onsite and undisturbed until the insurance investigation is complete. A security presence also deters intruders who could be injured and become a liability risk.
Fires, by their destructive nature, consume the evidence of their initiation and progress as they grow. Often investigations are compromised, and scenes are further destroyed unintentionally by fire services, emergency medical and law enforcement whose primary responsibility is to save lives and protect people and property against further damage. The press and curious individuals attracted to large fire scenes can also complicate investigations and damage evidence, making security a necessity.
Below are three benefits to securing a large loss site:
- Having security on a large loss site gives the adjuster time to review the policy, check their limits, find the named insured, and see if there are any exclusions in the policy. It also allows for the adjuster to get the right experts on the scene and seek legal advice if necessary. Time spent at the beginning of a claim can drastically speed up the process, making both the client and insurance company extremely satisfied.
- Security also allows adjusters the ability to determine the liability and to prevent any further liability from occurring, while at the same time addressing any safety issues that may be present.
- Lastly, security allows the adjuster to identify and address subrogation potential and to keep the continuity of any evidence. Insurers must demonstrate to the courts that proper procedures were established to preserve the continuity of evidence. If the site is not protected, unauthorized people entering the scene could remove or damage evidence that may be key to the insurance company’s case to determine liability or to seek subrogation.
This past summer I was lucky enough to be involved in a few of the events at the Pam Am games. My favorite was the equestrian competitions that took place in Caledon. To witness how big and beautiful the horses were from different countries and how each one had their own personality was remarkable. Each equestrian event showcased each horse’s unique talents and strengths.
January 2016: ASAP Secured security guard on duty.
So naturally, it was hard to hear about all the recent barn fires that have taken place across Ontario. Late at night on January 4, a large barn fire started at Classy Lane Stables Training Centre in Puslinch where 40 horses and three ponies perished in the fire. 10 days later, ASAP Secured was called to secure another large barn fire in Mount Forest that claimed the lives of 13 Arabian horses.
Unfortunately, barn fires have been on the rise in Ontario over the last three years. According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, between 2012 and 2014 there were 443 barn fires in the province; 192 of those barns were housing animals at the time. Although these fires and ones similar to them have caused tremendous damage and even sometimes the loss of lives, it never surprises me to see how communities, no matter how big or small, all come together to help those that have been affected by these tragic events.
Similar to the recent changes in fire code regulations for retire homes, I’m hoping that new fire prevention laws are applied to all barns that house animals to reduce tragic barn fires that claim more lives.
January 2016: Barn fire site.