The Most Common Causes of Office Fires
It’s easy to forget about fire safety in a day-to-day office environment. With all the happenings of a busy business or workplace, something like fire risk assessments may easily fall through the cracks. However, the safety of staff and premises is the most important aspect of any workplace, as an unsafe working environment negatively affects every facet of daily work life. This is why planning for emergencies such as fires is a crucial undertaking in order to protect your workplace and your employees.
A fire is not something anyone ever wants to happen, but it is important to be prepared for the eventuality (and have procedures in place in order to keep everyone safe if one does occur). Here, we will discuss the most common causes of office fires to help you start your journey of assessing the fire safety of your office.
Faulty wiring in plugs, electrical equipment or appliances is a very common cause of office fires. A single spark can cause a fire to break out at any time, in any place, which is why it is a major cause for concern when evaluating your office’s fire safety.
In order to prevent a fire from breaking out this way, ensure that you have a fire risk assessment completed at least annually, if not more frequently, to keep your office the safest it can be. Have any electrical equipment checked for faulty wiring and make sure all alarms and sprinklers are functioning as they should be.
MCFP offers comprehensive fire risk assessment services that we would be happy to provide to keep you and your staff as safe as possible.
Improper Staff Training and Human Error
Another common cause of office fires is human error as a result of improperly trained staff. Accidents do happen in any office space, and employees can misuse cooking equipment, appliances or desk accessories in ways that could cause something to smoke or catch fire. Additionally, negligence may occur and an employee may block or lay something on a piece of equipment that requires ventilation.
Accidents cannot be completely eliminated. However, ensuring that your staff are properly trained in knowing what equipment in their workspace needs to be well ventilated or paid extra attention to and how to effectively use fire safety equipment (such as fire extinguishers and alarms), should be an absolute priority.
It is also a requirement that employees know the proper evacuation procedure and emergency exits in their workplace. This is so that any emergency can be handled as smoothly as possible with everyone’s safety in mind.
MCFP provides staff fire training to help keep the workplace ready for an emergency and mitigate the risk of human error causing a fire in the first place. Any accidents that occur can be handled efficiently and with minimal damage if employees are well trained in and knowledgeable about the proper fire safety procedures that are necessary for an emergency situation.
Flammable and Combustible Materials
Combustible and flammable materials are also a leading cause of workplace fires, as they are extreme fire hazards if they’re improperly stored. For office spaces with garages or warehouses, one spark from a piece of equipment could cause a fire to break out or even an explosion.
In order to prevent a fire of this type, ensure that any flammable materials or combustible materials on the premises are properly labelled and stored according to correct guidelines so that they do not pose a threat to surrounding employees. Additionally, making sure that there are adequate emergency exits, escape routes and fire detection equipment in the workplace is important to the safety of employees should something occur.
Having a cluttered office is another significant fire safety risk. If an office is not cleaned regularly, has too much clutter and dust or is just generally not well ventilated, there is a much higher risk that a fire will break out. Dust trapped in vents can cause smoke and fire, and having too many things in an office space can be a hazard in itself – not to mention an obstacle to both escape and the proper carrying out of fire safety procedures.
In order to decrease the chance of a workplace fire from clutter, ensure that your office is being cleaned and tidied regularly (including air ducts and any pipes that could have a build-up of flammable particles such as dust). Having a requirement that staff keep pathways clear and their spaces tidy is also an easy way to contribute to fire safety in a workplace.
As unthinkable as it may be, arson and intentional fire setting is a common cause of office fires. While it may exist in a different category than other workplace fires in terms of risk assessment and fire prevention tactics, there are still ways in which you can protect your workplace from this kind of danger.
Having CCTV cameras and intruder alarms installed in your building is a highly important aspect of fire safety, as it can help keep an eye on the comings and goings of the office as well as alert you to anyone trying to gain access outside of office hours.
Outdated or Minimal Fire Equipment
Another factor to consider when addressing fire safety in the office is whether all fire safety and fire prevention tools in the office are updated and functional. Preventing a fire from starting is important, but it is just as important to make sure all equipment that is in place can be used safely and effectively to fight the fire after ignition occurs. This means taking a look at fire extinguishers and what type is best suited for your workplace. It also means updating fire alarms and sprinkler systems to a new, more effective model if needed in order to make sure any fire that breaks out is stopped quickly and efficiently.
It is also important to make sure that your building’s exits, fire doors and emergency lighting are up to date and in good working order in case of the event of an evacuation.
Even if fire safety is not something you think about in your everyday office life, it is still an extremely important aspect of employee health and safety. In order to make sure that your fire safety procedures are adequate for an emergency, make sure you keep your alarms, extinguishers, sprinklers and exits working and ready.
It is also imperative that employers and employees are properly trained in fire procedures, including assigning a fire warden or having marshals in the office.
At MCFP, our job is to provide you with quality fire safety services and knowledge in order to keep your workplace and employees safe. Check out our full fire safety offering, or get in touch today for more information.