Faced with choosing between what you must do and what you could do, it was lucky for Jason Kowaleski that he chose both.
As the owner of Amity Court Motel in Stratford there are many regulations that must be complied with. Having fire extinguishers is not one of them.
“Before our FMG adviser Kent Ferguson’s visit to the motel, we’d never thought about fire extinguishers,” says Jason.
When they were first suggested by Kent, Jason and business partner and father David didn’t really see a need for them, given the cost and because they weren’t part of the code of compliance for motels. Luckily, Kent’s reasoning for installing them was ‘compelling’ says Jason.
“Kent was insistent. He posed the question if there were a fire then what would we do? Even though we had an evacuation plan the fire service would be more than 20 minutes away, and a lot of damage could be done in that time. What impacts would that have on our business?”
Jason says that gave them pause to consider what might they do if they were unable to host guests for a period of time? Would their loyal clients take their future business elsewhere after staying at another motel?
Needless to say, the pair were convinced, and fire extinguishers were installed. Then they remained unused for several years — until one night a fire was caused in a most unexpected way.
Unexpected fire in the dead of night
If a fire were to break out at a motel, you’d be forgiven for thinking it started with an accident in the kitchen.
At Amity Court Motel is was attempted arson just after 1am.
“A person on a bicycle came onto the property, which we later saw on CCTV. They pushed an outdoor chair up against one of the guest rooms, then lit a fire, which slowly transferred to the building. It was lucky that one of our guests was still up watching Netflix when she saw smoke through her window. She woke her partner who ran out and grabbed one of the extinguishers. He used this to put out the fire,” says Jason.
It stood out to Jason just how much fire and smoke damage there was in a mere five minutes. It gave him a sense of how different things could have been if there weren’t fire extinguishers nearby.
“We never needed those extinguishers, until that moment when we really did. They are a worthy investment and I’d recommend them to others in the business too. There’s always going to be things that you can’t insure — the intangibles — and for us, having the fire extinguishers mitigated that risk.”