News & Insights

Surviving a fire: critical steps

Published 06 December 2019

f you have to deal with a fire threatening your property preparedness is the key to survival. If the threat is imminent here are some of the critical points to follow, from surviving the fire itself to what you need to do to support an insurance claim for damage to your property or business premises. Always remember that property can be replaced but your life cannot. Fires are extremely dangerous. Make safety your priority and we will take care of the rest.



If you choose to defend your premises be aware that it requires two fit and extremely determined adults and that you will have to be practically and psychologically prepared. If you are unable to safely leave the property you need to take these steps:

  • Wear protective clothing.
  • Move all flammable items and fuel away from the premises.
  • Turn off gas at the mains and switch off air conditioning.
  • Wet down the exterior of the building and fill gutters with water.
  • Use wet towels or similar material to fill and gaps around doors. Keep a reserve of these wet materials.
  • Stay inside the building. If it catches alight close the door to the burning room and retreat to another room with an exit. If you have to leave head for already burnt ground.

What to expect

The fire will typically take between 5‒20 minutes to pass, depending on conditions. It will be preceded by a wall of intense radiant heat, around 6 times hotter than the rear of the fire, that can kill anyone who is out of doors. There will also be smoke, darkness, loud noise and the high risk of ember attack.

After the fire

Call us straightaway on the 24/7 claims 1800 254 287 hotline if you need to make a claim. Acting on behalf of our clients to facilitate a smooth claims process is part of our service commitment and we will help you in any way we can.

For extreme events we have a Claims Catastrophe Plan which we activate to ensure our clients receive a timely response that sets their claim in motion.

To support the claims process

  • as soon as practicable photograph or video damaged plant or equipment, showing the nature and extent of losses or damage, first of the exterior and any damage to other buildings on your property, then the interior and contents. Be systematic as these records will assist your case.
  • make a detailed list of plant and equipment that captures all your damaged assets. Don’t dispose of damaged items, instead store them until your claim is resolved.
  • ask the suppliers of affected items to write assessments of the extent of the damage and provide quotes for recommended repairs or replacements. You also need to save all purchase orders, work orders, invoices, time sheets, service contracts or material requisitions for remediating or replacing your business’s property of any kind.
  • keep a daily diary to record all the facts and events that have a bearing on your claim, documenting the decisions you make and the reasons behind them. Record all the time that your employees spend on claim-related work and detail the actions that they perform. Your log should also include notes on any discussions or meetings about your claim.
  • also record all lost opportunities or cancelled contracts that support your claim for loss of revenue or reduction in turnover. Bear in mind you will also need to supply documentation that shows your business’s figures for the previous period.

    Download our essential steps claims guide:
  • Making a claim for your business after a bushfire 5 steps to getting a positive outcome

We’re here to help

Your local broker can help you review your business insurance to ensure you have adequate coverage and will be able to reopen your doors for trade once the storm has passed.

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Further reading

4 steps to ensuring your business is ready this bushfire season

6 simple ways to prepare your property for bushfire season

Bushfire season is here and set to last even longer in 2019-20

Are you bushfire ready? Our broker tips for managing your risk

To the extent that any material in this document may be considered advice, it does not take into account your objectives, needs or financial situation. You should consider whether the advice is appropriate for you and review any relevant Product Disclosure Statement and policy wording before taking out an insurance policy.

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