6 min read

How Susceptible Is Your Business To Fire?

A fire can devastate a business, putting employees and customers at risk while severely damaging its infrastructure, equipment, and inventory. In some cases, fires can lead to a total loss, causing a business to close its doors permanently. 

Fires can occur anywhere, at any time, for various reasons. However, some businesses can be more susceptible to fire than others. To help you determine whether your company is at higher risk of fire, we’ve detailed common causes of fire in commercial properties and examples of fire hazards. We’ve also compiled a list of ways to prevent fires at your establishment. 

10 Common Causes of Commercial Fires

1. Inadequate Fire Safety Measures

A major factor that makes a business susceptible to fires is the need for more fire safety measures in place, such as insufficient fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and escape routes. 

2. Poorly Maintained Electrical Systems

Faulty wiring and poorly maintained electrical systems are common causes of fires in business establishments. Outdated or malfunctioning systems can cause electrical overheating and short circuits, which can spark fires that cause extensive commercial fire damage. 

3. Improper Storage of Flammable Materials

Storing flammable materials like paper, wood, and chemicals near heating sources or electrical equipment can cause spontaneous combustion. 

4. Overloaded Power Outlets

This is particularly common in businesses that rely on multiple electric devices in small spaces. Business owners should always use high-quality power strips with built-in overload protection and avoid plugging in more devices than the outlet can handle.

5. Damaged Wiring and Cables

Frayed, cut, or otherwise damaged wiring and cables pose a significant fire risk, as they can cause a short circuit or spark that ignites nearby combustible materials. For instance, sparks can fly from damaged wiring, which can land on a stack of papers, starting a fire.

6. Improperly Installed Electrical Systems

Poorly installed electrical systems, especially in older buildings, can lead to fires due to inadequate grounding, loose connections, and other issues.

7. Smoking and Open Flames in Workspaces

Open flames, such as candles, brazing torches, fireplaces, lit cigarettes, and charcoal or wood-fired grills, can ignite nearby materials. To minimize risks associated with smoking, create designated smoking areas away from flammable materials. Alternatively, consider instituting a “No Smoking” rule at your place of business. 

8. Improperly Stored Flammable Liquids 

Flammable liquids can ignite when exposed to open flames or sparks. Examples include fuel, cooking oil, solvents, and cleaning products.

9. Poorly Cleaned and Maintained Kitchen Equipment 

Cooking equipment, such as stoves, grills, and fryers, pose significant fire hazards in commercial kitchens. Regularly inspect and maintain appliances to minimize the risk of fire.

10. Dirty Grease Traps and Exhaust Systems

Grease buildup in grease traps and exhaust systems can ignite and spread fire quickly. Schedule regular cleaning and maintenance for these systems to help prevent fire and keep your business, customers, and staff safe. 

Types of Businesses Most Susceptible to Fires

As mentioned, fires can happen to any business. However, some types of companies have a higher risk of experiencing commercial fire damage due to the nature of their operations. Some examples are:

Manufacturing Plants

Equipment failure and human error in handling hazardous materials can lead to fires in manufacturing plants. Additionally, electrical malfunctions and combustible dust accumulation are potential risks.

Restaurants and Food Service Establishments

Food service establishments can have multiple potential fire hazards. These include dirty grease and oil traps, gas leaks, faulty wiring, and overheated electrical appliances. 

Warehouses and Storage Facilities

Many factors can contribute to fires in warehouses and storage facilities. Examples include electrical system malfunctions as well as improperly stored flammable and combustible materials. 

Automotive Repair Shops

Possible causes of fire in vehicle repair shops include flammable liquids, sparks from welding or grinding, and electrical malfunctions. 

Six Commercial Fire Safety Tips

For business owners, ensuring the safety of employees, property, and assets from commercial fires is crucial. In order to minimize the risk of fire, consider following the tips below: 

1. Install and Maintain Fire Detection and Suppression Systems

Fire alarms are essential to ensuring your customers and staff are alerted to fire once it occurs, giving them sufficient time to exit the building. Meanwhile, sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers can help keep fires from spreading and causing further commercial fire damage to your property. 

2. Develop and Practice Fire Evacuation Plans

Consider contacting your local fire safety department or hiring a private consultant to help you create a detailed fire evacuation plan. It should be straightforward and easy to understand, ensuring that employees know what to do and where to go in the event of a fire. 

Train your employees on fire safety and evacuation plans and conduct fire drills. This helps ensure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities during an emergency. 

3. Regularly Inspect Electrical Systems and Equipment

Consult a licensed electrician and schedule regular inspections of your electrical systems and equipment, including wiring, outlets, and appliances. 

4. Properly Store Flammable Materials

Keep flammable materials in well-ventilated, fire-resistant cabinets. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on proper storage. 

5. Train Employees on Fire Safety Procedures

Regular fire safety training sessions keep your employees informed and up to date on the latest safety practices. 

6. Schedule a Business Fire Risk Assessment 

A commercial fire risk assessment is a thorough evaluation of a business or commercial property to identify fire hazards. A business fire risk assessment also pinpoints areas of concern, such as poor fire safety measures. 

By determining your organization’s susceptibility to fire, identifying hazards, and evaluating your current safety measures, a business fire risk assessment allows you to create a commercial fire protection strategy to address areas of concern as well as implement improvements to minimize the fire risk and ensure the safety of employees, customers, and property.

Reach Out to the Experts in Fire Damage Restoration

If your business has been damaged in a fire, turn to Restoration 1 of Bryan and College Station for assistance. Our team is highly trained and experienced in property restoration after a devastating event like a commercial fire. Leveraging the latest equipment and techniques, we work hard to bring your property back to its pre-fire state so you can get back to business as usual as soon as possible. 

We’re ready to serve you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Reach out to us to learn more.