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Preventing Large-scale Losses

Large property losses happen when a significant amount of damage occurs to a building or structure. Some examples of large losses that can be costly are lightning strikes that happen at a water treatment plant, or a fire in a public works or administration building.

Preventing these types of losses requires a comprehensive approach that includes both preventive measures and preparedness plans.

Here are some preventive steps that can help reduce the occurrence of large losses, and assist in managing it should a loss occur:

  1. Install lightning protection systems. Lightning rods, grounding systems and surge protectors can help reduce the risk of lightning strikes and minimize the impact of strikes that do occur.
  2. Perform regular maintenance and inspections of electrical and other systems. This can help identify potential hazards before they cause damage. Refer to the National Fire Protection Association 70B Standard for electrical equipment maintenance.
  3. Provide training and education. Educating employees and contractors about lightning safety and procedures to follow during severe weather events can help prevent accidents and minimize damage. Cities should conduct training and emergency action fire drills on an annual basis, and provide fire extinguisher training for all employees who are expected to extinguish an incipient-stage fire.
  4. Develop preparedness plans and an emergency response plan. The emergency response plan should include procedures for responding to large losses, such as evacuating the facility, shutting down the critical systems, and contacting emergency services.
  5. Establish a communication plan. The plan should address notifying employees, contractors and other stakeholders of the situation and providing updates on the response efforts.
  6. Install fire alarms, smoke detectors and an approved fire suppression system. The system should be appropriate for the type of materials that would catch fire in an emergency, whether it be combustibles, flammables or lithium batteries.
  7. Install backup power systems and redundant equipment. These can help minimize the impact of lightning strikes and other disasters.
  8. Conduct a post-incident analysis. This should aim to identify the causes of the loss, evaluate the effectiveness of the response plan and make any necessary changes to prevent similar losses in the future. In the event of a large loss, it is important to follow the preparedness plan and activate the emergency response procedures as quickly as possible. This may include contacting emergency services, evacuating the facility and implementing the communication plan. After the incident, cities should conduct a thorough analysis to identify the cause of the loss and implement any necessary changes to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Equipment such as surge protectors and fire suppression systems can help reduce the occurrence of a large loss. SC Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund members may apply for reimbursement of up to 50% of the cost of the equipment purchased, not to exceed a maximum benefit of $4,000 per member per year. A budget of $100,000 has been allocated for the 2023 calendar year. The funds will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until depleted.

For questions or additional information on the prevention of large property losses, contact John Ciesielski, loss control consultant, at 803.354.4752 or