Wolgast Restoration Blog Page

Fire Resistant Building Elements for Business Owners

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Oct 05, 2020 @ 02:24 PM

Forty to sixty percent of businesses that face disaster, such as a fire, never reopen according to FEMA.gov. To prepare for Fire Prevention Week the beginning of October, we have compiled information about making a business structure more fire resistant.

In 1922, the NFPA originated Fire Prevention Week was a small organizational observance. President Coolidge adopted it nationally in 1925 to be recognized every year during the week of October 9. That date coincides with The Great Chicago Fire, which happened in 1871, killing 250 people and leaving 100,000 homeless (nfpa.org).

This yearly reminder to building inhabitants whether end users or owners is a good practice to help save many lives, homes, and businesses, and we feel that knowing what causes the most fires in a commercial or industrial setting will help business owners protect themselves from hazards, see graphs.

Commercial Building Fire Causes         Industrial Building Fire Causes

Sources: nfpa.org: U.S. Structure Fires in Office Properties, Aug 2013     nfpa.org: Fires in Industrial and Manufacturing Properties, Mar 2018

For commercial buildings, the majority of fires are started while cooking, so having flame retardant materials and furniture is important in the kitchen area. It’s also important to know that intentional fires are commonly arson caused by a disgruntled person either in the bathroom or an exterior dumpster, therefore, it’s good to be aware of who is in a building when there has been an altercation, empty trash daily, install motion sensor cameras, and keep the dumpster away from the building.   Additionally, most unintentional fires are commonly started by cigarettes in the landscaping or space heaters placed against the wall. Having designated disposal units for cigarettes and a policy about the use of space heaters are great, low cost means to protect from everything going up in smoke (smokeguard.com).

Depending on the size and use of a building, a sprinkler system may be required by code. For example, an office or medical building, AKA light hazard, over 12,000 s.f. is required to be “sprinkled”, but a restaurant only needs to be 5,000 s.f. to require a sprinkler system. I interviewed Bernie with Jimco Fire Protection, Inc. about what materials building owners should use to be more fire resistant and he suggested, “Metal trusses with fire retardant sheeting is the best way to go on a roof.” By using these materials, an attic doesn’t need to be sprinkled regardless of the size even if the rest of the building needs to be. Another option that Bernie doesn’t readily recommend is instead using wood trusses and installing a dry suppression system. It may be less upfront cost, but there will be regular ongoing maintenance of the system that will likely add up to cost more and cause more risky down time. According to sciencedirect.com, other material selections good for fire protection of a building envelope (i.e. walls, ceiling, floors, columns, and roof), are heat resistant materials and/or metal choices, such as concrete, coated steel, brick and mortar, treated wood, glass, and other metals to name a few.

Also, depending on the size and use of a building, an owner may be required by code to incorporate the following into the structural design, fire curtain, a minimum number of fire alarms, emergency lights and exit signs, and a minimum number of fire extinguishers. Bernie reminded us that if adding on to a building, it could trigger the additional expense of some of these requirements.

Low cost ways to protect staff, customers and assets from fire damage include good housekeeping inside and out of the building, maintenance, having a disaster response plan, and a contingency plan. The best practice is to take the time to train staff on fire safety and how to use an extinguisher, and discuss a disaster plan with staff including where to meet outside the building to be accounted for in the event of an emergency.

I asked Bernie what was new in the fire protection industry and he said, “Sprinkler heads are the only thing changing. In the 70s there were only 4 options, now there’s an unknown number of options.” He shared that on the market are single heads that can reach 30 ft. one way and 30 ft. the other way, essentially covering entire rooms with its spray. A head of that strength of spray requires only one main line in a room, rather than using more materials to branch out with piping through the space and also needs less labor saving on cost.

Wolgast Corporation and Wolgast Restoration are in a unique position to be able to assist business owners to rebuild during a disaster. We have the insurance restoration expertise to help with clean up along with the design and construction expertise to rebuild the structure if it’s needed. In the event of an emergency call 855-WOLGAST for our 24-Hour emergency hotline, or 800-WOLGAST for other building needs.

Topics: commercial, fire damage, business preparation

How Third Party Administrators Have Shaped Our Restoration Services

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Jan 21, 2019 @ 02:14 PM

Third Party Administrator Programs Provide Excellent Framework for Restoration Customer Service

Restoration ConstructionLove them or dislike them, our insurance restoration business model has been molded by Third Party Administrators (TPAs) from the onset of our business plan.  This was intentional to simplify our new restoration service division in a complex industry to satisfy all end users, i.e. insurance companies, and policy holders. 

We recognized that the TPA programs as a whole offer the frame work for high levels of customer service for all entities that we serve.  Our systems are based on the TPA frame work, so whether we are involved under one of their programs, or work that we do as directly hired by an insured, our service will be the same consistent level of quality.

What we have gleaned from TPA models:

  • Cost Efficiency and Predetermined Pricing – One of the reasons TPAs were originally developed was to help make claims more cost efficient. We use the same estimating software as the insurance carrier, so our pricing matches.  This takes out any discrepancies or a source of discontent with the insured.  It also eliminates the need for a policy holder to waste precious time shopping for a restoration company based on the price.
  • Improving Service Time – TPAs have strict reporting requirements to track response times and work progress. Our parent company, Wolgast Corporation, a 70 year old commercial contractor, has a reputation for getting buildings built quickly.  We draw from their experience and processes to set milestone dates and ensure that we’re efficient and meet deadlines established at the start of the project.
  • High Level Customer Service – In our program work by TPAs, we are regulated as to how quickly we respond to a claim, how quickly we provide estimates and how quickly we complete our work; all things that are important to the affected policy holder. This has helped us to provide excellent customer service to policy holders, many of whom have sent us letters of goodwill stating their appreciation during their time of need.  We have taken this a step further with sensitivity training for our first responder staff members to help instill in them that they don’t just need to quickly expedite critical restoration processes, but also that they need to provide emotional support to the insured during a highly sensitive time.
  • Maintaining Qualified and Well Trained Staff – Each of our staff members have been trained and certified in their area of expertise, as well as have had background checks prior to entering an insured’s property. This is how we can confidently comply with TPA programs as well as reduce risks of deviation from our reputable service.

We continually hone our processes to continue to improve our speed, efficiency, customer service, and staff development, as we speculate that TPAs will continue to expect more.  This is how it’s been since the inception of Wolgast Restoration and how we set ourselves apart.

Check out these blogs:
How to Meet Expectations of Property Insurance Customers after a Disaster
Being What Agents and Adjusters Seek in a Restoration Company

How to Solve Your Biggest Problems with Property Content Recovery

Topics: customer service, business preparation, restoration

Preparing Your Business for Spring Flooding

Posted by Rich Droste on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 @ 10:20 AM

Flooded businessMichigan isn’t known for being at high-risk of disastrous flooding caused by heavy rains. But last August, Detroit experienced a record rainfall of 4.57 inches in one day. Some communities received more than 6 inches of rain. This unusual event was considered by many to be a 100-year flood, especially since the last rainfall of this magnitude occurred back in 1925. Detroit’s average rainfall for all of August is only 3 inches.

The water reached a height of 14 feet on some roadways. This event shut down major freeways, stranded hundreds of motorists and caused one death. This is especially disturbing, since it occurred during one of the driest months in Michigan.

Now that spring has arrived, we face the prospect of even more severe flooding from melting snow and spring rains. We saw record flooding in April of 2013 and some Michigan rivers have already flooded their banks this month.

The key to good flood preparation is to know and understand your hazards. Proximity to water is the number one risk factor to flooding. Flood maps, available from the National Flood Insurance program can help you to determine if your facility lies within a flood plain. Also, perform a thorough examination of your facility itself. Be sure all downspouts and drains are clear from debris and adequately direct water away from the foundation of the building. Over time, parking lots and landscaping can gradually deteriorate or erode, changing the way water flows and puddles on your property. If your property hasn’t been properly maintained or improved for several years, it is a good idea to hire an expert in these areas to perform a flood risk assessment.

While we are in the business of restoring property after a flood or disaster occurs, we feel it is important to make business owners aware of other damages, besides property, that a flood can inflict on their business. An event like the one last August may not have caused extensive property damage, but it did impact the infrastructure responsible for generating millions of dollars of daily revenue for the local communities and businesses.

Every business should have a contingency plan to minimize the impact such a disaster can have on their business, if the local infrastructure is compromised. This type of plan can include:

  • Creating alternative shipping and receiving routes.
  • Warning customers of possible delivery delays.
  • Having alternate or backup suppliers in place, in case your suppliers are affected by the same disaster.
  • Developing an emergency cash reserve fund to cover payroll, vendor contracts, mortgage payments, leases, etc.
  • Establishing an adequate line of credit in case you don’t have enough cash in your emergency fund.
  • Keeping a list of key contacts for those that provide administrative services for your business.
  • Evacuating critical documents and backing up electronic data files.
  • Protecting or removing vulnerable computers, equipment and machinery.
  • Setting up an off-site management and operations command post.
  • Creating an emergency communication channel and protocol for employees to report to managers.
Developing good relationships with public agencies and corporate partners can improve your ability to protect your business and return to normal after a disaster. Maintain a communication channel with community leaders, public safety agencies, government agencies, utility companies, insurance companies, and disaster restoration contractors. Working with outside agencies can be very beneficial, because they can provide you with a wealth of information to help you recover quickly from a disaster.

Topics: spring floods, business preparation, contingency plan