Just last month, a major office fire occurred in the San Diego suburb of Oceanside. The fire started in an aircraft engine repair shop, and ultimately caused more than $1 million in damage. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured (although one firefighter did sustain some injuries). However, this report shows that even in a building filled with intelligent engineers well-aware of the dangers of fires, catastrophic fires can still occur.
Last time, we spoke about some of the common causes of home fires, and how to prevent them. Today, we are going to talk about the place you probably spend as much time at as your home: the office!Whether you are a business owner or an employee, office fires are a very real concern that should be taken seriously. Here are a few of the most common causes of office fires, and what you can do to prevent them:
Perhaps the most preventable fire risk in offices comes from neglected or faulty electrical wiring and equipment. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 12% of office fires, and 15% of direct property damage, are caused by malfunctioning electrical and lighting equipment. It is absolutely imperative that a well-trained and highly-rated electrician looks at the current state of the office electrical system, especially if the wiring has not been checked in many years, or if you’ve just moved into a new building. It is also important to have the wiring checked after an event like an earthquake.
If your office also has a warehouse, there is additional risk if high density discharge (HID) lights (common in warehouses) are used. HID lights have toxic and combustible materials, which can be a major problem if the electrical wiring causes them to blow out.
In the kitchen/break room
The break room is an important part of the office. It allows employees to bring or cook their own meals (saving them money and making it easier to eat healthy), and can be a communal area where strong work relationships are forged among employees. However, it is also the most commonplace that office fires are started. Approximately 29% of office fires are started using cooking equipment. However, those fires tend not to cause much damage, thanks in part to the fact that smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are typically found in kitchens and break rooms. If your office does not have both of these inexpensive and potentially life-saving devices, invest the $40 it costs to buy both today.
As a company that specializes in both fire and burglar alarms, we have particularly strong feelings about arson. It almost goes without saying, but obviously arson is (or shouldbe) the most preventable form of fire. While it is rare that arson fires result in death, they can cause millions of dollars in property damage, including crucial company files and assets. Of course, the firefighters tasked with putting out these flames occasionally become injured as well.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to stop a determined arsonist. However, you can discourage them significantly through the use of CCTV cameras and proximity sensors. An armed fire alarm can also ensure that the fire department is dispatched as quickly as possible, possibly resulting in less property damage.
Even if you aren’t welding airplane wings in your office, there is still a lot of value that comes from installing a robust fire alarm system, as well as educating your employees (as well as yourself) on the common types of fire risks around the office.
For more information about office fire safety, be sure to visit the National Fire Protection Association website by clicking here. For more information about fire alarms, CCTVs, or any other security-related questions, please contact us during regular business hours at (909)982-7612, or visit our main website by clicking here.