Whether you own a commercial building or a home, or even if you rent a commercial space for your business, fire prevention should be one of your top safety concerns. Unfortunately, fires are all too common both in the home and in commercial buildings, and many of these building fires could be prevented by following proper safety protocols. One of the best defenses is to understand the most common causes of residential and commercial fires to help mitigate the risks.
Causes of Commercial and Residential Fires
Fires are more common than you might think in both residential and commercial buildings. Some of the main causes of fires in buildings include cooking equipment, heating equipment, and electrical equipment. Learn more about the risks with these systems, as well as the best way to maintain each system to decrease the risk of building fires.
When you think of commercial building fires, one of the most common businesses that may come to mind is restaurants. Cooking equipment is responsible for more than 60 percent of fires in restaurants and more than 65 percent of fires in healthcare facilities, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Cooking equipment can be at a higher risk for fires due to high temperatures, flammable oils and grease, and the fast-paced environment. Here are some tips for preventing fires caused by cooking equipment:
- Be alert, and don’t use a stove or oven if you are tired or have consumed alcohol.
- Do not leave the kitchen while frying, broiling, or grilling food.
- Keep the stovetop clear of anything that can catch fire, such as oven mitts, wooden utensils, or trash.
- In commercial kitchens, have ductwork and exhaust fans cleaned and serviced on a regular basis by HVAC professionals.
Many commercial and residential buildings require heating and cooling to stay comfortable year-round. These heating and cooling systems increase the quality of life for those using the building, but they also increase the risk of fire. To prevent fires caused by heating equipment, such as furnaces, boilers, radiators, and space heaters:
- Replace old or worn equipment when recommended by manufacturers, or when the equipment begins to show signs of wear-and-tear
- Have furnaces, duct work and HVAC systems cleaned and maintained annually by a professional
- Be vigilant for signs of damage due to pests, mold, or external elements
Electricity is a staple in almost all modern buildings, giving us light and power indoors. However, this modern marvel can also carry risks of fire. Old or defective wiring, overloaded circuits, loose connections, and faulty fuses can all lead to a problem that sparks a fire. Here are some tips to keep the electrical system in your home or commercial building in the best possible condition:
- Have homes inspected by qualified electricians, especially older homes
- Only use a qualified electrician for electrical work
- Watch for warning signs, such as blown fuses, visible damage to wiring, discoloration, flickering lights, or burning odors
Intentional fires in the home, such as fires in fireplaces, can cause a fire. One of the major risk factors for fires, both in residential buildings and commercial buildings, is candles.
- Only burn candles under constant supervision
- Keep candles away from other combustible material
- Trim candle wicks before each burning
- Do not allow candles to burn all the way to the bottom of the container
- Extinguish candles when sleeping or not in the room
- Place candles in a secure location, away from pets and children, and on furniture that is stable.
Another “international fire” that can cause a lot of damage is smoking. To prevent accidents related to smoking:
- Smoke outside
- Extinguish cigarettes all the way when finished
- Be alert and aware when smoking cigarettes
- Never smoke around medical oxygen, which can explode if near a flame or spark.
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