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How can businesses prevent fires in offices

In an office, nothing is less welcome than a fire. It can disrupt workers, cause personal and property damage and worse. Fire hazards usually increase during the winter, and the resulting smoke, fire and water damage can potentially be catastrophic.

If you have, just like so many other entrepreneurs, built up a company after lots of planning and sweat, the last thing you want is to see all your efforts go up in smoke. Unfortunately, office fires are not all that uncommon, so it is a must to be precautious.

There are various common causes of office fires — and most of them can be avoided with the necessary precautions and a robust fire prevention plan.

Many small companies ignore important office upgrades and focus their efforts on pinching pennies. However, in the long-run, this frugality can eventually lead to a business downfall. Recent studies reveal that more than half of office fires occur due to electrical, lighting, cooking and heating equipment.

The National Fire Protection Association stated that fire prevention authorities and departments respond to more than a thousand office-building fires every year, leading to millions in direct property damage.

Investing in better equipment and periodic maintenance is a great way to prevent fires in your office. Office fires are much more common than you might be thinking while reading these lines and businesses are legally required to have a fire safety plan in place.

Every fire actually starts with an ignition source and then builds from there. A fire that goes unnoticed can eventually cause irreparable damage in a very short period of time. Office employees are frequently trained to evacuate rather than prevent or fight these fires.

These are some fire facts you need to know

  • Most office fire outbreaks happen between noon and 2pm on weekdays.
  • About 30% of fires outbreaks happen between 7pm and 7am but account for almost 70% of total property damage.

Potential causes of office fires

  • Almost 30% of fires are actually caused by cooking devices and equipment yet account for only about 5% of damage.
  • More than 20% of fires are caused by lighting, electrical or heating equipment, accounting for almost 20% of damages.
  • Surprisingly, less than 10% of fires are actually ignited intentionally. However, these intentional fires comprise about 20% of property damage.

The FPA or Fire Protection Association provides the following tips to prevent fires in offices

  • Do not run power cords under a carpet or rug, or behind furniture. Keep these cords away from traffic areas to avoid a tripping hazard.
  • Space heaters consume a lot of electricity. To avoid overloads, plug it into circuits that aren’t burdened by other appliances.
  • Do not stack papers on a space heater or utilise it to dry your clothes, cook food or warm sheets and bedding.
  • Ensure kitchen areas are always equipped with a fire extinguisher and explain to all your workers how to use it.
  • Consult with a professional and run a fire risk assessment regularly.
  • Back up computer data and other important business records at least once per month. Store this data in a location off-site where you can retrieve these records in the event of an incident or office fire.
Mary is a London-based copywriter. Her passions are the online world and music, and in her free time she enjoys reading her favourite books as well as playing chess and travelling.
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