Colorado Wildfires – Business Impact

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Analysis by Firestorm Principal Guy Higgins

Wildfires are frightening events.  The wildfire outside of Colorado Springs is one of three wildfires along Colorado’s Front Range.  Major fires are also burning outside Fort Collins and around Estes Park and a smaller, but uncontained, wildfire is burning just west of Boulder.

On the Waldo Canyon Fire, Mayor Steve Bach released sobering news Thursday.

“Hundreds of homes were destroyed,” he said. A more precise number is expected later Wednesday. Bach said crews are meticulously going through addresses to make certain all information is accurate before releasing any further details.

Information: Latest Updates on Evacuations

The media focus for these wildfires is largely on the loss of homes and the impact on families.  Then the media turns to immediate impact on business – like the closing of the cog railway on Pikes Peak.  Certainly the fires are having a major impact on business in the direct path of the fires, but there are other longer-term impacts as well.

The wildfires in Colorado will have a direct impact on the economy of Colorado and Colorado businesses far beyond the immediate impact of the closing of businesses in the area of the fires.  The damage to the scenic forests and the reputational damage will impact tourism for the remainder of this year and possibly for many years to come.  That loss of tourism will, in turn, impact the hospitality industry, which then impacts their “supply chains.”  The ripples spread throughout the state, and into adjacent states.

The risks of wildfires, like those in Colorado, are very high in the mountain west.  Every year, there are devastating fires.  This means that businesses should incorporate planning for the impacts of wildfires into their business plans.  Some businesses, such as those in the mountains, need to consider and plan for the direct impact of fires and the potential for loss of their facilities and/or some significant fraction of their customer base.

Those businesses out on the plains need to consider and plan for the potential loss of their customer base as a ripple effect of the fires and the potential loss of parts of their supply chain as a direct result of the fires.

While plans cannot provide a precise set of actions to respond to disasters like the Colorado wildfires, the thinking that goes into the plans is priceless – it prepares the businesses, the leaders and employees with the framework to react appropriately to the actual events and circumstances.

This “preaction” thinking and planning prepares businesses to respond to disasters, but more importantly to survive disasters, recover from the disasters and resume normal operations as quickly as practical.  The first businesses back in operations gain a huge competitive advantage.

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