Fire is a serious threat to commercial properties for sobering reasons. With stable heat, fuel and oxygen, fires can become difficult to control in 30 seconds and double in size in just one minute. Further, nearly half of businesses experiencing a major disaster such as a fire never reopen and another 25 percent fail within a year.
“We advise every commercial customer to walk through their properties, identify fire hazards and reduce those risks now by taking fairly simple precautions,” cautions Leslie Anderson, Senior Vice President of Training for Paul Davis.
Let’s tour a typical business location – a large office building – to identify the top four risk factors hiding in plain sight, listed in order from most frequent to least frequent culprits identified in commercial blazes.
Our first stop on the tour is the cafeteria because cooking is the most frequent cause of commercial fires. The kitchen is packed with fire hazards: volatile fuels like grease as well as high temperature equipment and flammable materials such as towels and paper products. Precautions include retaining professionals to remove grease from exhaust systems, maintaining cooking equipment and sprinklers regularly, ensuring sufficient fire extinguishers and keeping flammable materials away from ignition sources. Finally, train staff what to do if a fire breaks out.
Our second stop on the tour could be nearly any room in the building because heating equipment – furnaces, radiators and space heaters – is the second most frequent cause of commercial fires. For furnaces, smart precautions include installing appropriately rated fire extinguishers nearby, professionally servicing units and flues, and knowing the location and operation of the emergency kill switch. For radiators, keep combustible materials at least one metre away. Space heaters can be so risky that, rather than regulate their use, many commercial properties ban them completely.
On our third tour stop, we peek under the nearest desk and see the third most frequent commercial fire spark: an electric outlet packed with multi-plug extension cords. The most important precaution to avoid this fire risk is retaining an electrician to inspect the structure’s wiring and ensure it is sound, up to code and equal to the electrical demand. Additional important precautions include avoiding overloaded power strips and outlets as well as always utilizing ULC-approved electrical devices.
Let’s step outside to find the fourth most frequent cause of fire in this commercial building: an employee smoking a cigarette. Precautions to mitigate this risk include designating smoking areas away from main buildings and providing safe cigarette disposal bins.
Paul Davis is on call 24/7/365 at 844-215-7898 to help your business recover if a fire occurs despite your best precautions.