It’s typical for self-storage companies to have a favorite charity that they like to support, and Everest Self Storage, of Phoenix, Arizona, is no exception. Everest has been supporting the Phoenix Fire Department Outreach Program for nine years. This year, the facility is helping Phoenix fire victims by donating three storage units. According to facility manager Maria Bates, the storage units at Everest are being used to store donations that have been collected in local drives until they can be distributed to the victims of home fires.
Fires at self-storage facilities are rare, but self-storage owners and operators take the threat of fire particularly seriously, because of the damage that it can potentially cause to tenants’ belongings. In addition to direct physical damage, fires can cause secondary damage from smoke and the activation of sprinkler systems or the use of water and/or foam by fire departments. The possibility of fire is the reason why many self-storage owners and operators feel it is important to religiously follow safety rules regarding the storage of hazardous chemicals or smoking in and around the units. Many self-storage owners try to prevent fires by establishing a no-hazardous or flammable chemicals policy. They also have rules against tenants’ smoking in or around the units. Keeping smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in good order and monitoring the storage facility carefully are other good preventive tactics. Most storage facilities, as well, are made of metal and concrete — materials that resist burning, although they can still be damaged by intense heat in a fire. Finally, self-storage facilities prepare fire-safety plans and training programs, post fire emergency exit procedures for tenants, and conduct employee fire drills regularly. Employees know what their responsibilities are in the event of a fire, know where to find the two exits that are closest to their work areas, and know where to find the phone number for the fire department.
Since fires that affect self-storage facilities often occur at night and are frequently the result of arson, self-storage owners and operators also protect their businesses by instituting careful security procedures. Operators and employees keep an eye out for strangers who may be loitering, lock doors and windows securely when closing up at night, keep the outside perimeter of the property well lit, and keep trees and bushes that are located near buildings trimmed low, so that they do not provide an easy hiding place for potential arsonists. They also keep the outside perimeter of the buildings free from potentially flammable materials.
In case worst comes to worst, self-storage companies have insurance policies that can be used to cover damage from fires. Analysts recommend that self-storage companies invest in insurance that provides both “actual loss sustained” coverage and coverage for damage that results from pollution (such as smoke or chemical agents that may be used to put out a fire).