When businesses turn off their fire detection and suppression systems for routine maintenance or emergency repairs, they do not always turn them back on in a timely fashion. The consequences can be significant: System shutdowns are to blame in two-thirds of sprinkler failures during commercial structure fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“When fire detection and suppression equipment is compromised, both people and property are at increased risk,” said Steven D. Hernandez, senior vice president of Chubb & Son and worldwide loss control services manager for Chubb Commercial Insurance. “October is National Fire Prevention Month-a good time for businesses to address this serious threat.”

Hernandez suggested that businesses take the following steps to help minimize the risks associated with fire protection system impairment:

*Create an impairment plan that will go into effect when the system is out of service, whether the outage is planned or unplanned. Consider basing the plan on the minimum requirements of “NFPA 25: Standard for the Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance of Water-Based Fire Protection Systems,” as well other applicable local requirements. It should list specific steps to take during and after the impairment and assign responsibility for carrying out those steps.

*Minimize the hazards that could increase the risk of fire, and schedule planned maintenance during off hours or weekends, when possible.

*Notify the local fire department, alarm company, insurer and appropriate company personnel of system outages.

*When the impairment is over, follow the appropriate system restoration steps carefully, and recontact company personnel.

*Assess the effectiveness of the fire protection system impairment plan periodically.

These and other risk mitigation recommendations can be found in a variety of property protection resources that Chubb’s Loss Control Services provides to its customers. Chubb makes available fire protection system impairment kits, which contain information on creating an impairment plan as well as notification forms, warning stickers and hang cards.

The kits are designed to highlight and minimize the risks associated with shutdowns of fire protection and suppression equipment. Additionally, through Chubb’s Loss Control University, commercial customers can enroll in several fire protection classes, including “Maintaining Water-Based Fire Protection Systems” and “Sprinkler Plan Review.”

For more information visitwww.chubb.com.