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Fire Prevention Tips for Commercial Buildings

Last Updated: October 24, 2022

Since October is Fire Prevention Month, we thought it would be appropriate to share tips that you can use to help prevent fires from breaking out in your commercial building.  Here are just a few:

Limit the Use of Individual Space Heaters

Space heaters generate heat and heat is one of the key elements of fire.  As the days grow colder, be careful allowing team members to use heaters.  Ensure that combustible materials are kept away from the heat source and that the heaters have safety mechanisms in place that turn the heater off if it falls.  Heaters also draw a lot of power so the risk of overloading electrical outlets increases.

Keep Workplaces Free of Clutter

Another element of fire is fuel and cluttered workplaces are ripe with fuel sources that could ignite or allow the fire to spread much more quickly.  Clutter such as paper, trash, empty boxes, and decorations can increase your building’s risk of fire.  Encourage your team members to keep their workspaces clear of unnecessary clutter.

Check the Appliances in your Kitchen or Breakroom

According to NFPA, the leading causes of fires in office buildings are cooking equipment (29%), electrical distribution and lighting equipment (12%), and heating equipment (11%).  Cooking appliances such as ovens, stoves, microwaves, toasters, etc. pose a great risk to your building.  Encourage employees to pay attention when they heat up their lunches and not leave their food unattended.  Leave space behind appliances to allow air to circulate and prevent overheating.

Don’t Overload Electrical Outlets

When overloaded electrical outlets carry too much electricity, they generate heat that often goes undetected until it is too late.  The heat can wear down internal wiring which can start a fire.  Be careful to not overload your outlets.  Use surge protectors (not just power strips) with internal circuit breakers but make sure they have plenty of room for air circulation.  Do not daisy chain surge protectors, power strips, or extension cords which could increase the risk of fire.

Stack Boxes Carefully

Boxes and materials should not be stacked or stored in stairways, in front of emergency exits, or in the path of fire escape routes.  Warehouse materials should not be stacked so high as to obstruct sprinkler heads.  If boxes are stacked to the ceiling, sprinklers cannot effectively protect their designed coverage area.  One of our sprinkler technicians can provide more information about height restrictions during a sprinkler inspection.

Be Mindful of Grease

Restaurants and other facilities with commercial kitchens should be aware of how dangerous grease build-up can be.  Over time, grease and grime deposits can coagulate and turn into a sticky, extremely flammable glue-like substance inside the kitchen vent hood system that, with enough heat, can potentially ignite.  Fire codes, as well as local fire officials, require that these hoods be kept clean and well-maintained at all times.  If a restaurant or kitchen is found in violation of code, it may be fined or shut down (or both!) because the risk of fire is so great.

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