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Loss Control Tips

New York Property Insurance Underwriting Association is your fire insurance company. A checklist is provided to help you identify potential hazards in your premises. This checklist is by no means comprehensive, and is not intended as a substitute for knowing and understanding applicable codes and regulations.


Auto Repair Shops, Body Shops, and Garages


You have purchased this insurance to provide financial protection in the event of a fire. No one wants to experience the loss of life, injury and disruption that a fire can cause. We have defined this checklist to highlight fire prevention methods for property owners and operators of auto repair and body shops whose businesses are particularly susceptible to fire.


It is no surprise that these businesses are among the occupancies which experience fires most frequently due to the storage of flammable liquids, and spray painting and welding that are conducted in these occupancies. Because the potential for fire is great owners must observe fire safety codes, train employees to recognize the importance of following maintenance schedules, and recognize situations which could cause a fire. Building departments, fire departments and other government regulators have comprehensive code requirements for auto repair and body shops to follow. These codes are the result of careful analysis of actual fires which have occurred over the years. The code requirements are designed to prevent excessive damage from similar fire situations in your establishment. Work necessary to adhere to code requirements should not be considered a burden for managers and workers who have busy and stress-filled work days. Code adherence should be considered a way to prevent injury, maintain property, and safeguard jobs.


A checklist is provided to help you identify potential hazards in your premises. This checklist is by no means comprehensive, and is not intended as a substitute for knowing and understanding applicable codes and regulations. Please use the checklist to recognize what you need to do to decrease the potential of fire.


  • Obtain Material Safety Data Sheets from manufacturers to be sure you are storing and using these materials in a safe manner. Use equipment according to manufacturers' specifications.
  • Make sure that your employees are properly trained and have proper certification to perform spray painting and welding.
  • Develop a fire safety plan for your shop. Make sure that all employees are familiar with it and understand its importance.
  • Store flammable paints, thinners, and adhesives in approved fire-rated cabinets away from ignition sources.
  • Check electrical equipment to locate wiring that is frayed or cracked and could cause sparks near welding or painting equipment. Make sure that equipment is properly grounded.
  • Clean oil spills immediately. Remove trash daily. Keep oily rags and clothing in a closed metal container until you dispose of or launder them.
  • Gas tanks used for welding should be properly labeled. They should be stored away from heavy traffic areas and should be chained securely to avoid damage.
  • Do not use space heaters where spray painting or welding is done, or near oil or gas storage tanks.
  • Motor oil should be stored outside in closed tanks while waiting for recycle pick up.
  • Spray painting should be done in a spray booth designed for that purpose. Keep portable lamps or any flame source out of the spray booth. Be sure that fire extinguishers and sprinklers in spray booths are operational. Check that spray booth ventilation is working as designed. lean filters, ducts, and interior walls of the booth. Operate the ventilation system for a period of time after painting to remove residue vapors and paint.
  • Use electric fixtures and switches that are designed for use in explosive environments.
  • Welding or cutting should be performed in areas free of combustible materials. An inspection of the area should be performed before leaving work and frequently during a 30-minute period after the welding operation has ended.
  • Be particularly vigilant when using portable welding equipment to be sure it is used in a safe environment. Be sure the welding cart includes a fire extinguisher. Make sure hoses are in good condition.
  • Store oxygen and fuel tanks separately; away from heat and sunlight, in a dry, well-ventilated area.
  • Never weld containers that have held flammable or combustible material until the container has been thoroughly cleaned.
  • Enforce "NO SMOKING" rules.

Hotels, Rooming Houses, & Lodging Houses


You have purchased this insurance to provide financial protection in the event of a fire. No one wants to experience the loss of life, injury and disruption that a fire can cause. We have defined this checklist to highlight fire prevention methods for property owners and operators of hotels, lodging houses and rooming houses.


Many of the issues that concern owners and operators of these occupancies involve life safety and emergency egress. These include sufficient and marked exits, accessible fire escapes, and installation of sprinkler systems in public hallways. Because of the significant potential of loss of life, building departments, fire departments and other government regulators have comprehensive code requirements for hotels, lodging and rooming houses. These codes are the result of careful analysis of actual fires which have occurred over the years. Work necessary to adhere to code requirements should not be considered a burden for managers and workers who have busy and stress-filled days. Code adherence should be considered a way to prevent injury, maintain property, and safeguard jobs.


A checklist is provided to help you identify potential hazards in your premises. This checklist is by no means comprehensive, and is not intended as a substitute for knowing and understanding applicable codes and regulations. Please use the checklist to recognize what you need do to decrease the potential of fire.


Regularly inspect rooms in order to determine the following:

  • Are there use of hot plates or other cooking equipment? Enforce a policy strictly forbidding cooking in rooms. Supervise common cooking areas and maintain them.
  • Are tenants adhering to reasonable housekeeping standards? Identify tenants who may store unreasonable amounts of clothing, newspapers or combustible materials. Take action to eliminate the hazard.
  • Is there evidence of careless smoking – burnt sheets or carpets, cigarette butts on the floor? Provide metal ashtrays.
  • Have tenants disabled smoke alarms? This may indicate the use of cooking equipment.
  • Are halls maintained free of debris? Provide metal trash containers with lids.
  • Are doors self-closing to prevent the spread of fire?
  • Are stairways kept clean?
  • Is the roof accessible to tenants? Prohibit use of the roof to prevent the accumulation of debris.
  • Are shaft ways free of any debris accumulation?
  • Is the sprinkler system in the building maintained? (Contact NYPIUA for additional information concerning sprinklers.)

Mercantile Occupancies


You have purchased this insurance to provide financial protection in the event of a fire. No one wants to experience the loss of life, injury and disruption that a fire can cause. We have defined this checklist to highlight fire prevention methods for property owners and occupants of buildings used for mercantile operations to alert you to some factors that can reduce the potential of fire or reduce damage. We cannot address the needs of each of the wide variety of mercantile occupancies we insure; and are, therefore, highlighting the most prevalent issues.


Mercantile occupancies range from neighborhood "mom and pop" stores to shopping malls. The majority of the properties we insure are the former. The stress and time pressure of operating these businesses may result in the proprietor not following practices to reduce the potential for fire. Building owners should inspect mercantile occupancies to evaluate whether hazards exist and work with their tenants to eliminate them.


A checklist is provided to help you identify potential hazards in your premises. This checklist is by no means comprehensive, and is not intended as a substitute for knowing and understanding applicable codes and regulations. Please use the checklist to recognize what you need to do to decrease the potential of fire.

  • Do not allow accumulation of debris. Remove waste from the premises daily.
  • Be sure that all employees are familiar with a fire prevention and safety plan.
  • Require strict adherence to "No Smoking" rules.
  • Inspect all electrical equipment to identify worn or damaged wiring that could cause sparking.
  • If cooking is done, be sure that fire suppressant equipment is installed and maintained.
  • Be sure that the area around refrigeration compressors is kept clear of debris.
  • If flammable or combustible liquids are used, store them in a fire-rated closed cabinet.
  • Install the proper type fire extinguishers for your premises. Have them inspected regularly. Train employees in their proper use.
  • Maintain the building’s sprinkler system, or demand that the property owner comply with all requirements. Be sure that the system is operational. (Contact NYPIUA for additional information concerning sprinklers.)
  • Keep aisles clear and passable.
  • Create an inspection plan that will result in the identification of hazards.
  • Store cardboard boxes away from heat sources.
  • Do not over stock.

Restaurants


You have purchased this insurance to provide financial protection in the event of a fire. No one wants to experience the loss of life, injury and disruption that a fire can cause. We have defined this checklist to highlight fire prevention methods for property owners and operators of restaurants whose businesses are particularly susceptible to fire. By restaurants, we mean all establishments such as cafes, pizzerias, delis and other establishments that cook and serve food.


It is no surprise that restaurants are among the occupancies which experience fires most frequently. Because of the potential for fire due to the use of multiple flame and heat sources, restaurant operators must observe fire safety codes, train employees to recognize the importance of following maintenance schedules, and recognize situations which could cause a fire. Building departments, fire departments and other government regulators have comprehensive code requirements for restaurant owners to follow. These codes are the result of careful analysis of actual fires which have occurred over the years. The code requirements are designed to prevent excessive damage, prevent injury, maintain property, and safeguard jobs.


Please use the checklist to help you identify potential hazards in your premises:

  • A hood and duct, and fire extinguishing system should be installed to cover all stoves, grills, ovens, deep fryers, and other cooking appliances.
  • An adequate number of extinguisher heads should be placed so that they cover all cooking areas.
  • The extinguishing system must be regularly serviced to assure that it remains properly charged.
  • An emergency switch to activate the fire extinguishing system should be placed away from the cooking area along the escape route.
  • Hoods should have baffle filters, rather than the wire mesh type that are difficult to clean.
  • Filters and hood surfaces should be cleaned daily to prevent grease buildup.
  • Lights within the hood should be properly covered.
  • A professional hood and duct service should frequently clean the hood to prevent buildup of grease within the hood interior.
  • Ducts must be professionally cleaned to eliminate dangerous deposits.
  • External venting for the duct system should be away from combustibles. Ducts placed through walls should have proper non-combustible sleeves.
  • Deep fryers should be kept away from other cooking appliances or separated from them by a sixteen-inch metal barrier to avoid igniting oils.
  • All appliances should be moved periodically to clean hidden surfaces.
  • Refrigeration compressors, a source of heat, should be dust free and not near combustible materials.
  • Garbage and cartons should be kept away from heat sources.
  • A thorough daily maintenance routine should be followed to clean floors, counters and cooking surfaces.
  • Install the proper type fire extinguishers for your premises. Have them inspected regularly. Train employees in their proper use.

Buildings with Sprinkler Systems


We have defined this checklist to help you understand the operation of your sprinkler system, how to maintain it, and how to assure that your premium reflects credit for having a sprinkler system.


Automatic fire sprinkler systems have been in use since the 1870's, helping reduce property damage and injury. They are considered the most effective method for fighting the spread of fire in its beginning stages. Municipal codes may require sprinkler installation in certain occupancies or in all buildings of a particular class.


Sprinkler systems are basically a network of piping, water supply, sprinkler heads and alarms. The sprinkler head is a valve with a "fusible link" designed to melt at a particular temperature; and, as a result, allow the flow of water to a designated area. There are a variety of sprinkler head designs that control the distribution of water and the temperature at which it will react. The number, type and placement of heads varies according to the nature and amount of material stored at the risk and the occupancy. The considerations for installing and maintaining a sprinkler system are regulated by the National Fire Protection Association (N.F.P.A.).


The most common sprinkler system is a "wet pipe system." In a wet system, closed sprinkler heads prevent the flow of water which is under pressure to pipes throughout the system. A heat source melting the sprinkler head link will immediately cause the distribution of water at a particular rate in the area of the fire.


A "dry pipe system" is used when the lack of heat at the site will not allow a wet system because of damage due to freezing pipes. Rather than water, pipes in a dry system contain pressurized air or nitrogen gas. When a heat source melts the sprinkler head link, the pressure of the air or gas is released. The decrease in pressure, in turn, opens a valve at the sprinkler control area allowing the flow of water into the system to be distributed through the open valve.


Less common are "pre-action system" and the "deluge system." These systems are used in environments that require special sprinkler protection and are activated by fire detection systems. These systems represent only a small percentage of sprinkler systems in operation.


The placement and number of sprinkler heads in a sprinkler system are determined by the use of the area to be protected. N.F.P.A.’s occupancy classification system regulates sprinkler design based upon the hazard group determined by the type of the material within the structure. Some storage facilities may require heads placed with storage racks. In certain manufacturing occupancies, sprinkler heads are placed under work tables.


While we commonly associate sprinkler systems with water, systems may employ chemical fire suppressants. These are employed when water cannot be used to extinguish fire. A common example of this is the fire suppressant system used to protect cooking surfaces in restaurants.


The accidental discharge of a sprinkler head may result in property damage. Coverage for sprinkler leakage protects the policyholder in this instance.


Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO) is directly involved with the evaluation of sprinkler systems to determine their efficiency. ISO applies credit to specific loss costs when properly functioning and maintained sprinkler systems adequate for the occupancy are present. ISO applies a scoring system to evaluate sprinkler systems. Accumulation of deficiency points will cause ISO to decrease or remove sprinkler credit from its loss costs, resulting in increased premiums. The presence of a sprinkler system in your property does not guarantee sprinkler credit in your premium.


A basic requirement is that the sprinkler system be periodically checked by a certified sprinkler contractor who can evaluate the system and report to ISO. The periodic tests vary between a dry system and a wet one. The basic purpose of the tests is to determine whether adequate pressure is maintained and whether the system will react as designed when activated.


These tests include drain tests and trip tests. The failure to report the test results to ISO will result in the decrease and eventual elimination of the sprinkler credit in the loss cost calculation. ISO makes the results of their own sprinkler evaluations available in their sprinklered property reports.


Please use the checklist to help you identify potential problems with your sprinkler system:

  • Are sprinkler heads free of paint, dust and grease?
  • Are the sprinkler heads obstructed by stored material? There should be no less than 18 inches of clearance at each head. Obstructions will diminish the operation of the head.
  • Are the sprinkler pipes used to support lighting or other objects?
  • Are there extra sprinkler heads and wrenches located at the control area for maintenance purposes?
  • Is the O.S.&Y. valve chained in an open position to avoid disabling of the system?
  • Are the sprinkler heads directed properly for their location?
  • Is there a sprinkler contractor that supervises and inspects the system as required by N.F.P.A. and ISO? Is a service log maintained?
  • Are the sprinkler alarms activated to protect your property in the event of accidental discharge or fire?
  • Has the occupancy classification of the material in the building changed since its installation so that the sprinkler system is now ineffective?
  • Is the heat supply in the premises adequate for the operation of a wet pipe system?

Manufacturing Occupancies


We have defined this checklist to highlight fire prevention methods for property owners and occupants of buildings used for manufacturing operations to alert you to some factors that can reduce the potential of fire or reduce damage. We cannot address the needs of each of the wide variety of manufacturing occupancies we insure; therefore, we are highlighting issues common to diverse manufacturing operations and are emphasizing conditions that are most prevalent.


Manufacturing businesses are an occupancy class that has inherent hazard due to the use of flammable and combustible materials used during the manufacturing process, or as a result of the nature of the finished goods. The potential for fire due to the use of heat sources and the presence of flammables requires strict adherence to fire safety codes, employee training to recognize the importance of following maintenance schedules, and vigilance in recognizing situations which could cause a fire. Building departments, fire departments and other government regulators have comprehensive code requirements for manufacturing businesses to follow. These codes are the result of careful analysis of actual fires which have occurred over the years. The code requirements are designed to prevent excessive damage from similar fire situations in your establishment. Work necessary to adhere to code requirements should not be considered a burden for managers and workers who have busy and stress-filled work days. Code adherence should be considered a way to prevent injury, maintain property, and safeguard jobs.


A checklist is provided to help you identify potential hazards in your premises. This checklist is by no means comprehensive, and is not intended as a substitute for knowing and understanding applicable codes and regulations. Please use the checklist to recognize what you need to do to decrease the potential of fire.

  • Know the materials used in your manufacturing process. Obtain Material Data Hazard Sheets from suppliers and understand use and storage requirements. Make employees aware of safety considerations.
  • Create special areas and install equipment for safe processing. Use spray booths for painting and varnishing. Be sure that dust, woodworking residue, or polyethylene filler are accumulated in a properly installed and maintained collection system. Maintain areas and equipment.
  • Do not allow accumulation of debris. Remove waste from the premises daily.
  • Be sure to satisfy municipal requirements for employee certification for the operation of dangerous equipment.
  • Be sure that all employees are familiar with a fire prevention and safety plan.
  • Require strict adherence to "No Smoking" rules.
  • Inspect all electrical equipment to identify worn or damaged wiring that could cause sparking.
  • Keep only minimal amounts of flammable material outside of specially designed storage rooms that have required ventilation.
  • Install the proper type of fire extinguishers for your premises. Have them inspected regularly. Train employees in their proper use.
  • Mark appropriate aisle spacing and keep aisles clear.
  • Safely store both empty and full gas tanks used for welding, cutting equipment or fork lift vehicles. Tanks should be stored in a low traffic area, preferably outside, and chained to avoid tipping. Remember that tanks are never completely empty.
  • Maintain the building’s sprinkler system, or demand that the property owner comply with all requirements. Be sure that the system is operational. (Contact NYPIUA for additional information concerning sprinklers.)
  • Restrict the use of welding or cutting equipment closer than 35 feet from combustibles.
  • Store cardboard boxes and finished goods away from heat sources. Use pallets or shelving for storage.