How businesses can be protected while sitting unoccupied for a prolonged period

Barrie Fire offering up help to employers nervous about closing up shop

With the provincial government ordering the shut down of many non-essential workplaces, many employers are left wondering what they need to do to prepare their business to sit empty for a time.

“We have actually had quite a few businesses, schools, etc., asking what they need to do,” said Barrie Fire Prevention Officer Samantha Hoffmann.

Barrie 360 reached out to Hoffmann for some tips for those who have to temporarily close up shop, and she says you need to tidy up first. ” Eliminate clutter from the exterior of the building,” she said, adding you should check the thermostat after that. ” Turn your utilities down but not off,”

Hoffmann says you should put some trust in technology, ” If you have a fire alarm system and/or security and it is monitored, you will be notified if anything happens,” but she adds you should double-check, just to make sure. ” Drive by your property regularly, or ask someone else to check it for you. By taking a look over it regularly, you can spot problems as soon as they occur and fix them before they become worse.”

Despite the province-wide shut-down, Ontario Fire Code requirements for Test, Check and Maintenance of Fire Protection Systems like alarms, extinguishers, emergency lighting, and exit signs, are still required.  “Make a plan with the company that provides this service so that they can still access the building and conduct these checks, tests, inspections,” adds Hoffmann.

Finally, Hoffmann suggests business owners reach out to Barrie Fire and ensure that emergency contact information is current and up to date.  You can send an email to fire.prevention@barrie.ca or call Monday to Friday 830 am to 430 pm. More information for business owners can be found on the City of Barrie website.

Meanwhile, the South Simcoe Police Service has offered several tips to keep your temporarily vacant business from becoming victim of crime while you’re gone:

  • Remove all valuables from storefront displays to help reduce smash-and-grab thefts.
  • Remove all valuables such as cash from the till and leave it open. Place cash tray in plain view on the counter to signal there’s no money in the till.
  • Remove signage from front windows so police can see the inside unobstructed during patrols.
  • Consider installing an alarm monitoring system. If you already have one, ensure the contact list is up-to-date.
  • Clearly post signage on the door/window to indicate that the premises are monitored by an alarm company; that no money is kept on the premises and contact information for police and the business owner in case a member of the public sees damage to the property or suspicious activity.
  • If the premises are closed for an extended period of time, clean all glass surfaces and create a tracking log of when cleaning was completed. This may help investigators with suspect fingerprints in the event of a break-in.
  • Consider installing a surveillance camera system that can be monitored online by owner/management.
  • Consider using a laminate on all windows and glass doors to prevent the glass from being broken from blunt force. Although damage to glass will occur in a break-in attempt, it will greatly discourage or prevent entry.
  • Install latch guards on doors to protect against prying including on secondary doors such as employee and loading entrances.
  • Keep some lighting on inside for surveillance opportunities during the evening.
  • Ensure all doors are properly secured and regularly check all exterior lighting is functioning.
  • Remove material around the exterior of the property that may be used to gain entry into the premises such as bricks, metal poles and construction materials.