When it comes to fires, prevention should always be the goal. This is particularly true for businesses and other organizations where fires can have an enormous financial cost and risk the lives of anyone inside the building.
To help you stay safe, we will identify six of the most common causes of fire. From there, we will cover some effective fire prevention tips you can use to prevent property damage, protect the safety and well-being of employees, and mitigate financial losses.
1. Electrical Issues and Faulty Equipment
Regardless of industry, electrical fires are incredibly common. Faulty and damaged wiring can cause sparks, igniting nearby flammable materials. Overloaded circuits and malfunctioning electrical equipment can also spark and generate temperatures that can trigger fires.
Electrical fires are incredibly common and particularly difficult to extinguish, which is why they can be so destructive.
- Regularly inspect all electrical systems to ensure that they are functioning properly. Check for damaged wires, outlets, and switches.
- Always avoid overloading circuits. Use surge protectors if you are running high-voltage electrical equipment.
- Train employees on how to recognize signs of electrical issues.
- Make sure a Class C fire extinguisher is in easily accessible locations near electrical panels and electrical equipment.
2. Smoking in Unsafe Areas
Unfortunately, carelessness with smoking is still a leading cause of residential and industrial fires. Smoldering cigarette butts that are disposed of improperly and smoking too close to flammable materials can and will cause fires.
- Ensure that smoking is only allowed in designated areas that are a safe distance from the building.
- No-smoking policies in non-designated areas need to be enforced with strict consequences. You should also ensure that all employees are educated on the potential dangers to their own safety if they smoke in prohibited areas.
- Use effective, fire-safe cigarette disposal boxes in designated areas, as this prevents lit cigarettes from blowing toward flammable material.
3. Improper Storage of Combustible Materials
While the dangers associated with storing flammable materials can vary from industry to industry, it is vital that your business learns how to store combustibles. Not only do they need to be kept at a safe distance from open flames and sparks, but they should also be stored away from heating systems, electrical systems, and any equipment that generates heat when used.
- Make sure that all materials are stored in designated areas at all times. This involves ensuring that all employees are trained to put materials away when not in use.
- Make sure heating equipment is far away from anything flammable. This includes temporary space heaters, furnace units, and anything else designed to generate heat.
4. Kitchen Fires
While you may assume that cooking fires are only a serious risk within the restaurant, catering, and other food-related industries, many businesses face fire risks from cooking equipment.
Even a small employee kitchen can be the source of a destructive and widespread fire. Even something as simple as misusing a microwave could trigger a fire!
- All kitchen areas must have well-maintained smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and even fire sprinkler systems.
- All cooking equipment, hood fans, and other exhaust systems need to be cleaned and maintained regularly.
- Employees must be trained on safe cooking practices and storing flammable materials, like cooking oil.
5. Improper Handling and Disposal of Flammable Materials
Not only does combustible material need to be stored in a safe location far away from any heat source, but it must also be appropriately handled and disposed of safely.
This is particularly true for flammable chemicals, which can produce fumes that could trigger fires.
- Follow strict safety precautions for handling and disposing of flammable materials.
- Always provide functioning ventilation in areas where chemicals are stored and used.
- Train all employees and contractors on how to handle and dispose of flammables.
Now that we have covered five of the most common causes of workplace fires and safety tips to mitigate their risks, we can quickly touch on a few general fire prevention tips you should follow.
First, ensure that your smoke detector and smoke alarms are always maintained properly. You must also do the same for fire suppression equipment, like a fire sprinkler system and fire extinguisher.
You also need to conduct regular fire prevention inspections. Developing an emergency response plan and practicing fire drills regularly can also help keep all personnel safe if a workplace fire occurs.
Finally, staying compliant with all of the relevant fire codes and fire regulations for your industry and geographic location is essential.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of fire prevention strategies. By preventing fires from occurring, you protect the lives and well-being of your employees, customers, and any other individuals that enter your workplace or organization.
You also ensure that your property and assets remain unharmed, so your business can continue uninterrupted.
For more information about fire safety and prevention, we recommend reading What Is Fire Safety and Why Is it Important for Your Business?
While we are on the topic of fire prevention and safety, it is worth mentioning how important it is to ensure that your business is equipped with the Shutgun! The Shutgun is the world’s leading fire sprinkler shut-off tool.
Unfortunately, fire sprinkler systems can be triggered accidentally or run well beyond the time required to extinguish a fire. Water damage can be far more destructive than a small fire when this happens.
Rather than waiting for first responders to deactivate your sprinkler system, the Shutgun lets you quickly and easily shut a fire sprinkler head down.
To learn more and order your own, click below: