10 Fire Safety Tips for Commercial Buildings

commercial building on fire

As a building manager, owner, or business person, you want to ensure that the commercial building you manage, own, or work in is risk-free and well protected from fire outbreaks and damages.

Besides preventing property destruction and loss caused by a fire, you want to ensure the safety of all your workers or the occupants of the building at any given time. Doing this isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard.

If you have no idea how to best protect human lives and property from fire, here are 10 handy fire safety tips you can implement.

1. Do Regular Inspections, Maintenance, and Tests

You must perform regular inspections and maintenance on all your fire safety equipment.

Each preventive or fire suppression device must be tested regularly to ensure it is in good working condition and can be used readily in case a fire breaks out.

Fire alarms, emergency exits, smoke detectors, alert lights and signs, fire sprinklers, and communication systems require routine inspection, testing, repairs, and replacement where necessary.

These activities can be done by a fire warden, your fire service provider, or the local fire department.

The last thing you want is to face a fire outbreak and be incapable of containing it because of equipment failure stemming from lack of maintenance or replacement of expired devices.

The designated escape routes and building access routes must also be inspected regularly to ensure they aren’t blocked, which could prevent the safe evacuation of employees or entry of firefighters.

2. Train Your Employees on Fire Safety

employees fire safety training

You must train your employees and building occupants on fire safety and effective prevention, suppression, and response to fire outbreaks. Everyone should know what fire hazards your building faces, how fires can be prevented, and what should be done to put one out if it happens.

A designated fire warden or fire prevention expert from your local fire service or company can help you train the employees at least once a year to keep them updated on the best practices.

Detailed fire safety training for employees should go hand in hand with a thorough and implementable fire safety plan, which every employee must be aware of.

Ensure you communicate your fire escape plan with your employees, so they know what it entails and their role in fire prevention and containment. The fire safety plan must include a detailed evacuation plan for when a fire occurs.

3. Eliminate Electrical Hazards

When it comes to fire safety tips, you rarely think of eliminating elements or items that pose fire risks in the first place, but you should take electrical safety seriously.

In most buildings, electrical hazards are the leading cause of fire outbreaks. You must ensure you eliminate all electrical hazards such as poorly disposed of batteries, naked electrical cables, faulty outlets, and exposed or open electronic devices. Workplace safety also means being careful with any heating equipment, like a space heater, in the area, too.

4. Have Designated Smoking Zones

Having a dedicated smoking zone is another safety tip to eliminate a direct or potential fire threat.

If you allow employees and visitors to smoke anywhere in the building, you risk suffering frequent fire outbreaks since not all of them will be responsible enough to ensure matches and cigarette butts are fully extinguished before disposal.

Speaking of smoking zones and smokers’ responsibility, having a designated smoking area isn’t enough.

You must have all smokers informed on how to best handle lit matches and cigarettes, how to dispose of them, and how to keep the lit ones away from things that might catch fire easily.

In high-risk buildings such as ones where chemicals and flammables are kept, you’ll want to abolish smoking on the premises entirely and practice zero tolerance to breakers of such rules.

5. Have an Up-to-date Fire Protection System

fire safety system

The fire safety industry keeps evolving, and you must stay abreast with the latest developments in fire suppression or protection devices and practices.

The basic fire protection and suppression equipment and devices you must have include:

  • Smoke detectors
  • Fire and smoke alarms
  • Communication devices for easier coordination of activities when putting out a fire and evacuating occupants
  • Private fire hydrants
  • Fire pumps
  • Emergency or standby power sources like generators
  • Automatic closing doors
  • Fire alert lights and signage
  • Fire sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers

Besides this equipment, you’ll also want devices to protect your property from water damage caused when fire sprinkler heads accidentally activate. Be sure to test each fire alarm and smoke detector regularly.

fire sprinkler head shut-off tool

You can buy and install a fire sprinkler head shut-off tool alongside each fire extinguisher for easy access. If a sprinkler head activates accidentally when there is no fire, you’ll use the shut-off tool to stop the water flow and reduce the damage the water would have caused.

6. Have Special Hazard Protection

Most industrial facilities and commercial buildings stop at installing fire protection. They fail to establish and implement special fire hazard protection.

If your commercial space has chemicals at stake, you’ll want to go beyond fire suppression systems and install special hazardous utilities like emergency eyewash stations and showers for on-the-spot decontamination.

Since setting up special fire hazard protection systems and complying with special hazard standards takes learned skills, you can do this by liaising with a reliable fire safety company.

7. Be a Good Housekeeper

We can’t stress this enough. It pays a lot to keep your office in good order in the way you handle both useful items and trash around you.

If you have items like office files and electric cables strewn all over the place, your workplace fire risks will be greater than in a building where such things are neatly kept in fireproof cabinets and electrical trunking.

You’ll want to clean up after yourself as much as possible, including all your employees and visitors.

If your building has hazardous materials inside, you must store and dispose of them properly to reduce the risk of fires and explosions. 

Your employees must wear protective equipment and safety gear when handling, storing, and disposing of flammable liquids or accelerants such as fuels, oily substances, batteries, and house cleaning products. Be careful with space heaters and candles as well.

8. Designate a Fire Warden

To keep tabs on the latest trends and developments in the workplace fire safety industry and to ensure your fire safety plan is up-to-date, you can designate a fire warden.

The fire warden will be responsible for the fire safety of your other employees, occupants, visitors, and the building itself.

The specially trained fire warden will have clear duties, such as:

  • Ensuring your building has enough fire safety equipment
  • Ensuring fire safety equipment and devices are fully functional and ready for use
  • Planning and overseeing fire drills
  • Training your employees (and visitors) on how to respond to fire outbreaks
  • Following all necessary measures for reducing fire risks

The person responsible for fire safety in a building may be the owner, building manager, company occupying the building, or the employer/business person.

It all depends on who your fire safety plan lists as the person responsible for fire safety, but it’s prudent to have a dedicated, highly trained fire warden.

9. Do Regular Fire Drills

Regular drills are an excellent way to ensure everyone that might be involved in a dangerous situation is aware of how to respond to the threat accordingly.

Fire drills help you gauge your preparedness in dealing with a false or real fire outbreak. It enables you to see how well or poorly your employees are equipped to handle real-life situations involving fire.

However, you must first train all your employees on fire safety and what to do if a fire breaks out.

Employees must know what they will be required to do, such as evacuating people, saving themselves, sounding a fire alarm, using fire extinguishers, and other applicable duties.

For optimal safety, your fire warden should notify your employees and other building occupants when they plan to conduct a fire drill.

Drills can quickly become dangerous if the stakeholders do not know that one will be conducted, and they end up panicking and risking their lives in the process.

10. Keep Your Fire Safety Company Close

In most places, commercial buildings rely on municipal or local fire department services for fire safety practices and putting out fires. Others rely on a private fire safety company.

Whichever the source of your fire support system, it’s advisable to always be on good terms with the service provider. Keep them close to ensure routine fire safety checks, equipment tests, fire drills, and fire extinguishing efforts are done promptly.

If you opt to work with a private fire company, ensure they are highly reliable. Those with a nationwide reach should be your first bet, especially if they have a branch near you. But local fire service providers also work great since they know your locality better.


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