What to Know Heading into the Peak of Wildfire Season

Property & Casualty

What to Know Heading into the Peak of Wildfire Season

As the number of wildfires and their emissions in North America continues to break records, their hazardous impacts become global as the smoke travels through the atmosphere. It is increasingly important to have a comprehensive understanding of the toll wildfires and their smoke can have on individuals, properties and businesses. 


Wildfires are a natural occurrence that play a vital role in the health of ecosystems. However, due to drought conditions, increasing temperatures and human activity, they have increased in frequency and intensified in severity.

Wildfires present unique challenges compared to other natural disasters due to their unpredictable nature and residual effects that can linger long after the wildfire has been contained. Their ability to start and spread rapidly makes early detection and safe evacuation crucial. Promoting safety and avoiding loss of life should always be the priority. Below are several ways you can help protect your employees should they become exposed to smoke or wildfire conditions.

Safety Preparedness When Working During High AQI

Monitor the air quality index (AQI), looking specifically for raised rates of PM2.5. PM2.5 are tiny, toxic air particles typically caused by wildfire smoke. Try to limit the time employees spend outside in these conditions to avoid adverse health impacts. PM2.5 levels are considered harmful to sensitive groups when they reach 100 and dangerous to everyone once they surpass 150.  

Work with your employees to train, communicate and implement a safety protocol when these conditions are present. If you reach an AQI of 151, plan to move employees indoors to filtered air, provide respiration masks or determine scheduling or procedural changes to keep your team safe.

  • Respirators must be labeled N-95, N-99, N-100, R-95, P-95, P-99, or P-100 and approved by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

Additionally, wildfires can cause business interruption and supply chain disruptions. Understanding these costs can help businesses to plan, budget effectively and invest in determining a communication and alert process if a fire does reach your business. Preparation could include the following:  

  • Land and forest management 
  • Early monitoring and detection 
  • Evacuation plans and emergency preparedness protocol 
  • Assess building codes and use fire-resistant materials when possible

Understanding the Costs

Suppression costs encompass the money spent to manage, extinguish or contain a wildfire. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), it costs nearly $75,000 to extinguish a single fire, and in 2021, suppression costs alone surpassed $4 billion. It’s important to note that while the direct costs associated with fire suppression efforts are often reported, they represent only a fraction of the actual costs involved. 

On average, wildfires set fire to 5 million acres annually. Homes, businesses, equipment and infrastructure trapped in the path of a wildfire can become damaged or destroyed, leading to significant financial losses for property owners. 

Brown & Brown is equipped with teams to help you navigate the complexity of natural disasters and their impacts on your property or business. Contact us to learn how we can help your business plan for a wildfire event. 







Property & Casualty Team