Press Release

QBE North America Warns Businesses That Fire System Shutdowns Make Property More Vulnerable to Severe Damage

NEW YORK, NY, October 10, 2022 — With National Fire Prevention Week taking place October 9-15 this year, insurance leader QBE North America is offering tips to help businesses prevent fires and mitigate losses if a fire does occur. Firefighters in the US respond to a fire every 23 seconds and a fire occurs in a structure at the rate of one every 65 seconds, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). With an increasing number of employees back to working in physical office spaces and places of business, it is critical business owners make fire safety and education a priority. 

“Fires can be one of the most devastating events to happen to a business but being prepared can make all the difference in keeping people safe and minimizing potential damage,” said Robert Tull, AVP Risk Solutions, QBE North America. “Companies have undergone significant challenges and changes over the last several years, making now a great time to revisit emergency processes and plans for events such as a fire.” 

One of the most vulnerable times for a business is when the fire protection or detection systems are impaired or shut down, as this severely diminishes the ability to withstand or contain a fire. In fact, from 2017-2019, working, automatic extinguishers were present in only 22 percent of fires in nonresidential buildings such as restaurants, office spaces and retail stores according to the U.S. Fire Administration, and only half did have working smoke alarm detectors. As such, properly managing and maintaining fire protection systems is vital to safeguard against catastrophic destruction. Maintaining these systems means planning for impairments or downtime during inspection and testing. Precautions should be taken to provide temporary protection, reduce hazards and ensure prompt restoration. 

QBE’s Risk Solutions team suggests business owners or managers take the following steps to help minimize the risk of fire occurrence and severity during system impairments: 


  • Plan for an impairment to your system by performing a detailed risk assessment to spot vulnerabilities and ensuring any nearby hazards can be protected, contained or eliminated. 
  • Confirm that you have the right materials – and staff – available before the impairment begins to shorten the length of the shutdown.
  • Notify key operations personnel, emergency response teams, local fire and rescue services and your remote alarm monitoring station as to when you’re planning a shutdown period.
  • Hang ‘Out of Service’ tags on equipment that is, or will be, affected during this time.


  • Keep a watchful eye for fire hazards in or around the area where the fire control equipment is impaired.
  • Be sure employees and contractors understand that the fire control is impaired and prevent them from performing unnecessary hazardous activities. Halt hazardous production processes and prohibit ‘hot work’ in the area.
  • Work on the job continuously until completed, if possible. If it must be left overnight, ensure security patrols the area and other precautions are maintained.


  • When the impaired fire control equipment is restored, inspect the area and witness a performance test or sprinkler alarm test to verify that it has been properly returned to service.
  • Re-lock valves, reset control panels, and inform your remote monitoring station.
  • Remove the ‘Out of Service’ tags from functioning equipment.

Businesses should also check in with their insurer as soon as possible after an emergency or unplanned impairment, or in advance of a planned impairment. As part of its fire prevention toolkit, QBE offers a Guide to Fire Protection Impairment with helpful information and recommended steps, and Fire Safety Inspection Checklist, as performing routine fire safety inspections is an integral part of an effective fire prevention and control plan. QBE Risk Solutions also offers a variety of additional tools and tips to help businesses prevent fires in the workplace.

QBE North America’s Risk Solutions teams are experts in risk and delivering loss prevention and loss protection services. Their focused commitment to service and technical acumen helps customers identify, evaluate, and reduce their potential for losses and business risk. By getting to know their customers, their business operations, priorities, and concerns, they can help deliver the best possible outcomes.

About QBE

QBE North America is a global insurance leader focused on helping customers solve unique risks, so they can focus on what matters most. Part of QBE Insurance Group Limited, QBE North America reported Gross Written Premiums in 2020 of $4.775 billion. QBE Insurance Group's 2020 results can be found at

Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, QBE operates out of 27 countries around the globe, with a presence in every key insurance market. The North America division, headquartered in New York, conducts business through its property and casualty insurance subsidiaries. 

The actual terms and coverage for all lines of business are subject to the language of the policies as issued. QBE insurance companies are rated "A" (Excellent) by A.M. Best and "A+" by Standard & Poor's. Additional information can be found at or follow QBE North America on LinkedIn and Twitter.

QBE makes no warranty, representation, or guarantee regarding the information herein or the suitability of these suggestions or information for any particular purpose. QBE hereby disclaims any and all liability concerning the information contained herein and the suggestions herein made. Moreover, it cannot be assumed that every acceptable risk transfer procedure is contained herein or that unusual or abnormal circumstances may not warrant or require further or additional risk transfer policies and/or procedures. The use of any of the information or suggestions described herein does not amend, modify, or supplement any insurance policy. Consult the actual policy or your agent for details about your coverage. QBE and the links logo are registered service marks of QBE Insurance Group Limited. © 2022 QBE Holdings, Inc.

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Media contact: 
Nicole Guzzardi
Lead Communications Partner