What are the most common fire hazards for dealers?
Vehicles brought into service with electrical or fuel problems. Staff left the vehicle unattended in the building overnight and a spark occurred. Unfortunately, many dealers are not aware of a problem until they receive a call that a fire has destroyed their facility.
Think of vehicles with electrical problems like a time bomb. They have gallons of flammable liquid wired to a malfunctioning electrical system. You wouldn’t consciously leave such a risk in the middle of your building, but unfortunately it does happen. That’s why we encourage dealerships to store vehicles outside overnight.
The dangers do not appear to be necessarily new. Why do you think this continues to be such a significant risk for dealers?
Many dealerships have not yet experienced a fire, which can create a false sense of security. Exhibits are constantly changing. Vehicles have more electrical components than ever before. When we talk to dealers, our goal is to provide them with the information they need to identify and manage their risks. This way, they can put in place security practices that help to avoid a major loss. The key is to create a routine, act immediately, and establish safety as a staple in your dealership’s habits.
What are some examples of safety gaps that dealers might overlook?
Exercise due diligence. Ask customers if their vehicle is showing signs of electrical, fuel, or hydraulic problems. Be sure to report vehicles with these symptoms.
And then don’t leave flagged vehicles in your service area overnight. This is a multi-million dollar mistake. We also encourage dealers to disconnect batteries and avoid charging the vehicle overnight.
How can dealers prevent a fire from happening?
It is about integrating safety into the culture of the concession. A good place to start is to work with your insurer. When we insure dealers, our safety team guides their staff through risk scenarios and helps them develop a safety program unique to their business. We will also help dealers recognize risks, understand loss trends and identify safety gaps. Think about all the essential processes that dealers strictly adhere to. Is security one of them?
Dealers cannot follow safety practices on occasion because risks exist all the time. We want to build relationships and build mutual trust that we are just as invested in their safety as they are.
What are three things dealers can do right now to protect their service department from a fire?
1. Identify your risks. Check vehicles for electrical, fuel, or hydraulic problems.
2. Reduce your risks. Power off flagged vehicles by disconnecting the batteries and turning off the fuel flow.
3. Isolate your risks. Park flagged vehicles outside and at least 30 feet from anything that could burn, including buildings and other vehicles.