If you own or a manage a commercial property, fire prevention and protection should be one of your chief concerns. From properly installing fire sprinkler systems to conducting emergency drills, fire safety education is hugely important for any business owners.
According to a research conducted by the National Fire Protection Association, the common causes of commercial building fires include HVAC problems, electrical and lighting issues, equipment misuse, intentional fire setting, and human error.
One of the tried and tested defenses against commercial fires is to learn about and lessen your risks. As a property owner or manager, the decisions you make can have an impactful significance in the lives of others; this is especially true in commercial properties.
Let’s look at the most common causes of commercial building fires and which type of properties these dangers often affect. We hope this information will help you know where to direct your fire prevention and protection efforts.
Heating and Cooling Equipment
Furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, and boilers should be installed and handled in compliance with strict codes and regulations. Unfortunately, it’s a widespread practice to put fire hazards such as boxes and documents in rooms where the apparatuses mentioned earlier are stored. This habit poses a significant risk; combustible materials should not be placed anywhere near heating and cooling devices.
Moreover, depending on what time of the year it is, commercial buildings in certain areas demand more heat to attain comfortable indoor temperatures. Thus, radiators, furnaces, boilers, as well as other mechanical equipment can overheat, which can lead to a fire.
Electrical and Lighting Problems
A lot of today’s modern buildings have electrical wiring running behind the walls. Unfortunately, it is a fact that electricity is a natural fire risk. Loose connections, broken fuses, overloaded circuit, among other issues can grow into a more significant thread that can lead to overheating that starts a fire. Some old buildings have neglected, out-of-date, and unmaintained electrical wiring systems that could easily spark and cause a fire.
Electrical code compliance is a serious matter that commercial building owners should follow. In some cases, pests such as rodents tend to chew away at the outer coverings of electrical wiring which can lead to a fire. A professional electrician can help check your wiring systems to ensure that every aspect is working correctly. You should also remember to properly maintain your fire sprinkler systems to ensure that they will work effectively.
Equipment Misuse and Human Error
Some types of equipment require higher temperatures to operate. For instance, in the food industry, commercial kitchens always have grease, flammable oils, and increased cooking temperatures. Not to mention the inherently hectic environment of commercial kitchens. All of these factors can cause commercial fires.
In almost all types of buildings – be it an office, hospital, or school, there is a kitchen of some sort for employees to use throughout the workday. Electrical equipment in office kitchens that are damaged and old can overheat and start an electrical fire. An effective fire prevention method is to test and check anything that plugs in that is constantly used in your office kitchen. Another important tip is to have a fire extinguisher readily available in the kitchen area – preferably a CO2 extinguisher, which doesn’t have a conductor and is ideal and safe to use to stop electrical fires.
Furthermore, when people are at work, they often have a lot on their minds. Because of this, they can get distracted and complacent; they can make a mistake that could start a fire. Microwaving plastic container, cigarettes that are disposed of improperly, coffee pots left behind, these are some human errors that could lead to a fire.
Unfortunately, reports and statistics show that intentional fire setting is the leading cause of death, damage, and other workplace injuries. The common reasons for arson in a commercial building are as a coverup for some other crimes or disgruntled employees taking out their grievances. Legally speaking, for an incident to be considered arson, investigations must conclude that the person of interest must have malicious and criminal intent.
From installing the right fire sprinkler systems and equipment in your commercial property to learning how to react to a fire, we hope this information gave you better insight on how to exercise your fire protection and prevention methods.
Be safe always!