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6 Most Common Sources of Fire in Commercial Buildings

January 31, 2014
Each year, California experiences thousands of commercial fires. Those fires result in millions of dollars in property damage, numerous injuries and sometimes even death. All commercial buildings should have a commercial alarm monitoring system in place, but such a system isn’t a panacea. Regularly checking for fire hazards and practicing fire evacuation procedures can help businesses reduce losses and casualties in the event of a fire.
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Most common causes of commercial fires and how to safeguard against them:

1. Cooking

Cooking is the most common cause of both residential and commercial fires. In the commercial arena, we tend to associate cooking fires with restaurants, but the problem extends to office kitchens as well. Treat all kitchens the same, wherever they are. A kitchen should have a smoke detector, a well-conditioned fire extinguisher and strict safety protocols, including no unmanned appliances.

2. Electrical

When it comes to electrical fires, the problem is twofold: user error and electrical system malfunctions. In the realm of user error, the big issues are frayed power cords, misused extension cords and overloaded and daisy-chained surge protectors. When it comes to a system malfunction, the biggest problem is faulty wiring, which is why it’s essential that all commercial buildings have their electrical systems regularly serviced by a professional.

3. Heating

Fires caused by heating are similar to those caused by electrical factors in that they’re caused by both user error and system malfunction. The most common form of user error is misuse of space heaters. Commercial spaces often have cold spots, and space heaters are a great way to alleviate that. Space heaters are also quite dangerous if users don’t respect a three-foot or greater safety zone around the unit. As for system malfunctions, fires often occur due to dust buildup and ventilation blockage, so be sure to have your heating system checked regularly.

4. Arson

Arson is much more common than you might realize. Although it often occurs at abandoned commercial structures, arson fires that occur at occupied buildings can be devastating. In addition to monitored fire detection and fire suppression measures, security cameras are an essential defense.

5. Smoking

Smoking was once a leading cause of commercial fires. This has been alleviated greatly through better security systems for business use and stricter protocols. Even in smoke-free buildings, however, cigarettes can and do lead to fire. Prevention starts with commercial alarm monitoring, but it also requires proper receptacles and fire-retardant furniture.

6. Combustibles

Most commercial buildings, including basic offices, must have combustible materials on hand. The real danger with such materials comes when they’re stored improperly, and this is a common occurrence because the materials are often being managed by people who aren’t trained in proper use. Therefore, it’s crucial to have safe storage space available, but it’s also essential that the business trains employees in the use of such materials and continues to refresh that education.

Commercial Safety

When it comes to fire and other risks to a commercial enterprise, it’s best to be proactive. Contact a security company that specializes in commercial security systems. They can help you identify risk factors in your place of business and make recommendations to help protect your enterprise against fire-related catastrophes.