Although fire may not be the most common type of workplace accident in the UK, the danger of experiencing such events still exists and is something that every commercial building needs to be aware of, in order to remain safe in the event of a fire.
Not only is it essential that employees and those in the building at the time are kept out of harm’s way, the building itself can cause costly damage if a fire occurs – not to mention the risk of litigation if the employer is considered at fault.
There are many ways a fire can occur in a commercial building. In this article, we establish the most common causes of commercial fire and the ways you can prevent them to keep the risk of fire at a minimum.
Electrical equipment with faults throughout the building
As probably one of the most obvious causes of fire in a commercial building, faulty electrical equipment can include anything from overloaded plugs and extension leads to loose wires and damaged connections. A fire caused by unsafe electrical equipment can happen anywhere in the building and cannot be put out with water, so it’s certainly the most essential safety measure to consider.
While likely the most costly, it’s important to ensure all equipment is up to date and working optimally. It will cost far less to upgrade equipment than if you were to pay for fire damages. Business owners are legally responsible to look after all electrical equipment, and orderly portable appliance testing is crucial.
Heating up in the winter months, with caution
In the colder months, heating is simply a necessity for commercial buildings to keep employees comfortable, and at less risk of sickness when flu promises to rear its ugly head every winter. Heating equipment uses electricity, which is at risk of causing fires, either from overheating or general electrical issues.
Regular inspections are essential to make sure that heating equipment is always in safe working order, especially in the months where radiators and heating systems are used more frequently.
It’s not possible to be entirely rid of flammable materials in a commercial building, but ensuring you keep them stored in a safe place will help prevent the risk of fire. Proper procedures and regular fire safety training need to be in place so that employees are aware of flammable materials and can take action if they witness any dangerous materials out of their storage zones. Taking note of flammable risks in risk assessments is a top priority.
Fire safety training
With any potential risk of fire, especially when it comes to a commercial property, there are many people coming in and out of the building every day that need to be addressed to ensure the highest safety measures take place.
Fire safety training is something that every employee – or at least a handful – should be aware of. Knowing the risks, escape routes and how to use fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers, something you need to raise awareness of with employees. Without the proper education, small yet significant mistakes can occur – such as blocking fire exit doors or covering air vents that keep electrical equipment cool.
Even if a fire does start in a commercial building, having a proper procedure that employees can follow will at least mean that everyone in the building can evacuate as safely and efficiently as possible while preventing the risk of negligence on behalf of employers and building managers.
Fires caused by cooking equipment aren’t just subjective to restaurants. Whether it be a cafeteria or a staff room, buildings that have areas with cooking appliances can end up being the cause of a fire. Ensuring that all cooking equipment operates safely and that everyone in the building has adequate knowledge on fire suppression is key to enjoying a lunch break without danger.
Although you would hope that crimes of arson are kept at bay, sadly they are still a huge source of concern for business owners The Home Office even states that 45% of all serious fires in the UK, to both homes and businesses, are caused by arson.
Identifying all potential security risks is the first step to putting a stop to arson attacks. CCTV is a great investment to scare off prospective arsonists, and it’s essential that those responsible for locking up doors and windows take extra precautions. Generally staying alert can make a huge difference in itself.
Resources are lacking
Neglecting the need for essential safety resources and equipment is something that happens more often than it should. Fire alarms, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire or smoke curtains all can support the prevention of fire. Without efficient equipment in place, a fire can drastically reach a dangerous stage before you are even aware of it happening.
For over 30 years, Coopers Fire’s innovation and commitment to developing industry-leading fire curtains and smoke curtains have led us to become the designers preferred fire and smoke curtain manufacturer and installer. Our vision is to save lives through quality and innovative products and to raise awareness of effective fire protection solutions.