Common Causes of Commercial Fire Damage
Kitchen fires top the list of common causes of commercial fire with between 25% to 30% of them being cooking-related. Some commercial fires that begin in the kitchen are started because of human error while others begin from an appliance malfunctioning. Since kitchens are a high-risk area of commercial buildings, it is important that all people using cooking equipment know how to operate that equipment properly. It is also crucial to have adequate fire prevention and suppression training, as well as an accessible fire suppression system to prevent a commercial fire from spreading.
Unfortunately, intentional fires are the next most common cause of commercial fire damage with 10% of fires occuring from arson. Intentional fires are most likely to occur after office hours and often do the most damage since there is no one around. Intentional commercial fires may start anywhere, but common areas to be aware of are bathrooms, garages, trashcans and dumpsters. Here are some precautions you can take to prevent arson at your commercial property:
- Empty trash cans daily.
- Keep dumpsters away from the building to prevent a dumpster fire from spreading to the building.
- Install motion detection cameras and lights in dark and desolate areas.
- Install fire/smoke curtains near doorways of the areas most likely to be used for arson.
- Trim shrubs and trees to make them more difficult to ignite.
Human Error/Unintentional Fires
Unintentional fires that begin from human error are responsible for approximately 10% of commercial fires. Employee fire safety is important since there are a vast number of reasons why an unintentional commercial fire can occur. To help prevent unintentional commercial fires, it is essential to educate employees on fire prevention and safety practices and install fire prevention systems. Examples of unintentional commercial fires include improperly discarded cigarettes, heating equipment left on or too close to flammable surfaces, candles left unattended, messy workstations and improper use of electrical devices.
Approximately 9% of commercial fires occur when HVAC systems malfunction. This includes central heating systems, space heaters, water heaters and other heating appliances. HVAC systems should be regularly inspected and kept up to code. Smoke alarms should be installed in close proximity to where the main HVAC system is located, as well water heaters or storage rooms.
Commercial fires are often started by an electrical malfunction, often due to issues with wiring in the building. Electrical wiring malfunctions often occur in older commercial buildings. Electrical equipment that is faulty, overloaded or improperly wired can become a fire hazard. Make sure that all electrical systems are operational, up-to-code, and adequate for the needs of your facility.