4 Common Causes of Winter Commercial Fires
Winter commercial fires are similar to those throughout the year, but the risks are often enhanced by furnaces, boilers, and space heaters, so it’s necessary to take extra precautions for winter fire safety.
Building owners and managers are responsible for having fire protection plans in place for their commercial buildings. But many underestimate the risks they face, especially in the colder months.
The most common causes of commercial winter fires include:
Employees may keep a space heater nearby to stay warm in a large, drafty commercial building. Unfortunately, they’re a significant hazard that can easily overheat, especially if plugged into extension cords.
You should use space heaters carefully and sparingly, as they can cause a disaster if left near flammable materials or combustible items. Consider increasing the indoor temperature or encourage employees to layer clothing to keep warm.
Faulty Heating Systems
Many businesses rely on central heating to warm their buildings and facilities in the winter.
However, HVAC systems can malfunction and overheat. These units also require routine maintenance that’s often forgotten among all the other work involved in managing a commercial building.
Proper servicing of your heating equipment, including filter cleaning and replacement, can help mitigate these risks.
User error like improper use of extension cords or not repairing or replacing frayed cords accounts for many commercial electrical fires. And overheating can occur when too many electronics or pieces of equipment are plugged into the same outlet or power strip. Another common fire risk is system malfunctions due to faulty wiring.
To prevent electrical fires, stay on top of routine maintenance and make sure employees are trained in the proper use of cables, plugs, and equipment.
Office kitchen fires are a threat at any time, but employees do tend to use these areas more often in the colder months. Frequent coffee or hot chocolate breaks and warming up lunches can lead to accidental fires.
To mitigate these risks, educate staff to never leave cooking appliances unattended while in use and post signage stating this policy.
Prevent Winter Commercial Fires With Fire Protection Services
Once you have a fire protection plan or program in place, keeping people safe is easier. Be sure to include these fire prevention tactics in your building’s fire safety plan:
- Remind employees never to smoke inside. If they go outside to smoke, they should stand at least 25 feet away from the buildings, preferably in designated smoking areas.
- Inspect all fire extinguishers to ensure they are functional and tagged.
- Schedule fire alarm inspection and testing to ensure they work correctly.
- Create an evacuation plan and clearly mark evacuation routes.
Winter can be a challenging season for commercial fire safety, so ensure your building’s fire protection system works its best to keep your employees and property safe.