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3/19/2024

10 Fire Prevention Tips for Commercial Buildings

Discover crucial fire safety regulations for your commercial building. Master these fire safety tips for optimal protection and peace of mind!

10 Fire Prevention Tips for Commercial Buildings

In a bustling commercial building, the risk of fire is always around the corner. Understanding the common culprits behind commercial fires is crucial for safeguarding your property and occupants. From heating mishaps to electrical malfunctions, each potential hazard requires attention.

Beyond mere awareness is the potential to be proactive. Join Forbel as we delve into the habits essential for building fire prevention in commercial spaces. In today's post, we’ll share some of the most important fire safety tips that you can implement right away. So, without any further ado, let's figure out how you can ensure fire safety for your commercial building.

What Causes a Fire in a Commercial Building?

There are many reasons why fire can break inside a commercial building. Let's talk about some of the most common causes of fire.

What Causes a Fire In a Commercial Building?
  • Heating Equipment: Commercial buildings have furnaces, radiators, and boilers that can often lead to situations where the building becomes overheated. This can cause fire, mostly in industrial properties.
  • Smoking: We’ve seen many cases where the fire was the result of careless smoking or not disposing of the smoking materials properly, a topic we’ll explore later.
  • Cooking: If your commercial building has a pantry or a kitchen, there can be chances where flammable materials like oil and grease can catch fire.
  • Arson: Arson is a fire that has been intentionally started by a person, often, but not always, using highly flammable substances. These deliberate fires can cause harm to the people inside the building or to the building itself. A good security system is the best safeguard against arsonists.
  • Electrical Equipment: If you have installed low-quality electrical equipment that has become overloaded, you stand a high chance of fire breaking out in your building.

10 Fire Prevention Tips for Commercial Buildings

10 Fire Prevention Tips for Commercial Buildings

1. Promote Fire Prevention and Safety Training Among Staff

Training staff on workplace fire prevention and safety measures is essential. Encourage a culture of safety where employees feel responsible for not only their safety but also that of their colleagues:

  • Comprehensive Training: Conduct regular training sessions to educate employees about fire risks and the correct use of fire extinguishers, as well as the importance of maintaining clear evacuation routes.
  • Regular Refreshers: Provide regular refresher training to ensure knowledge retention and address any changes in policies or procedures.
  • Hands-on Experience: Integrate hands-on practice sessions into training that allows staff to familiarize themselves with fire extinguisher operation and evacuation routes.
  • Clear Communication: Clearly communicate fire safety expectations and responsibilities to all staff, emphasizing their role in creating a safe workplace environment.

2. Establish Clear Emergency Evacuation Routes

Clear and accessible emergency evacuation routes are vital for ensuring the safety of occupants in the event of a fire. These routes should be:

  • Clearly Marked: Clearly mark all emergency exits with illuminated signage visible even during power outages. Conduct regular checks to ensure signage is unobstructed and in good condition.
  • Maintain Accessibility: Ensure all evacuation routes are free of clutter, tripping hazards, and obstructions. Regularly inspect and maintain doors and exit hardware for functionality.
  • Practice Drills: Conduct regular fire drills to familiarize occupants with evacuation routes, procedures, and designated assembly points.
  • Accountability: Implement a system for ensuring everyone safely evacuates during drills and emergencies.

3. Install the Latest Fire Detection System

Another great tip that we have for you is upgrading the fire detection system in your commercial building. As fire detection technologies keep on evolving, it’s important that you install the latest fire detection systems so that there’s no loss of life or property. Most of these fire detection systems have become so sensitive to smoke that they go off even when there’s a small amount of it in the air.

If your building has such a high-quality detection system, you can be certain that inhabitants will go through the fire drill and escape any damage. The smoke sensitive sensors are often connected to the local fire department which gets notified as soon as the fire safety alarms at your building go off. However, check the sensors periodically to replace any faulty equipment.

4. Implement Fire-Extinguishing System

Implement Fire-Extinguishing System

Many times you’ll see a small fire in the building that can be easily put out. While we don't recommend you take matters into your own hands, you can always train people to use fire extinguishers to manage small fires.

Modern-day commercial buildings have fire extinguishing systems in the form of sprinklers that sprinkle water in case the fire detection system detects smoke. We highly recommend you rely on fire sprinklers instead of fire extinguishers because the latter has to be operated manually and you might miss the target due to lack of training. The former, however, can be placed strategically in the building to ensure every fire outbreak can be professionally managed.

5. Create Dedicated Smoking Zones

Ensure a smoke-free environment for your employees by creating smoking zones inside the commercial building. These are essentially dedicated areas where people can smoke. Smoking outside the smoking zones should be strictly prohibited because there’s a risk of a fire outbreak in case the cigarettes aren’t disposed of properly.

This doesn't mean that the smoking zones shouldn't be monitored; if they’re not monitored carefully, they can start a fire. You can even have a no-smoke policy for everyone inside a commercial building. In case you create a smoking zone in the building, make sure your employees understand the importance of disposing of the smoking material properly.

6. Keep an Eye on Electrical Wiring in Circuits

The most common reason why fire starts in any commercial building is due to faulty wiring. You should make sure that your office's electrical wiring and circuit are installed properly. When it comes to electrical wiring, we highly recommend you deploy a well-planned wiring system that takes fire hazards into account.

But, installing proper electrical wiring isn’t it. Be sure to periodically check all the electrical sockets, cords, and wires to ensure the electrical equipment you’re using is performing at its best.

7. Implement Effective Storage Practices

Implement Effective Storage Practices

To mitigate fire risks in commercial buildings, it's imperative to adhere to effective storage rules:

  • Minimize Clutter: Eliminate unnecessary flammables like paper, cardboard, and textiles. Organize remaining items in sturdy, closed containers, off the floor, and away from heat sources.
  • Designated Areas: Store flammable liquids and materials in designated, well-ventilated zones, using proper safety cans and spill containment measures. Shelving units should be stable and secure, with heavy items on lower shelves to prevent toppling.
  • Label Clearly: Clearly label all stored materials, including hazard warnings and contents descriptions, for easy identification and proper handling.
  • Regular Assessments: Conduct regular inspections of storage areas, addressing any clutter build-up, damaged containers, or potential hazards promptly.

8. Dispose of Combustible Waste

Combustible waste, such as paper, cardboard, and wood scraps can significantly increase the fire load within a commercial building. Be sure to implement a rigorous disposal program:

  • Frequent Disposal: Establish routine waste disposal schedules to prevent the accumulation of combustible materials like paper, food scraps, and packaging.
  • Designated Receptacles: Implement separate, fire-resistant bins for combustible waste that’s located away from flammable materials and ignition sources.
  • Emptying Procedures: Ensure prompt emptying of waste bins and regular cleaning of collection areas to minimize fire risk.
  • Training and Signage: Train staff on proper waste disposal procedures and clearly mark locations of designated waste receptacles with the right signage.

9. Implement Fire Safety Protocols in Kitchens

Kitchens within commercial buildings pose a high risk for fires due to the combination of cooking equipment, open flames, and flammable oils. Be sure to establish strict fire safety rules to mitigate these risks. These rules should include:

  • Never Leave Cooking Unattended: Always stay in the kitchen while cooking, especially when using high heat or oil.
  • Keep Flammable Materials Away from Heat Sources: Store towels, paper products, and cooking utensils away from stoves and ovens.
  • Clean Grease Traps and Filters Regularly: Built-up grease is a major fire hazard, so clean grease traps and filters according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Have a Fire Extinguisher Readily Available: Choose the appropriate type of extinguisher for your kitchen and ensure everyone knows how to use it.
  • Train Staff on Proper Procedures: Educate staff on safe cooking practices, fire extinguisher use, and evacuation procedures.
  • Maintain Ventilation Systems: Regularly clean and inspect hood filters and exhaust fans to ensure proper ventilation and prevent grease buildup.
  • Dispose of Hot Liquids and Grease Safely: Never pour hot grease down the drain or trash; let it cool first and dispose of it in a sealed container.

10. Choose a Competent Fire Warden

Choose a Competent Fire Warden

We highly recommend you dedicate a resource to take responsibility for fire safety. You can appoint a fire warden that’ll make sure that all fire safety guidelines are followed in the commercial building. Fire wardens are highly trained professionals who know what to do when there’s a fire in a building. They periodically carry out fire risk assessments to ensure that all fire safety equipment and systems are in their prime.

How to Create Habits for Building Fire Prevention in Commercial Buildings

Creating habits for building fire prevention in a commercial setting involves fostering a culture of safety and awareness among all employees.

Habit 1: Become a Fire Safety Observer: During your daily routine, incorporate quick visual scans for potential hazards. Look for:

  • Electrical Issues: Damaged cords, overloaded outlets, or faulty equipment.
  • Flammable Materials: Improperly stored combustibles, discarded smoking materials, or unattended heat sources.
  • Blocked Exits: Cluttered pathways, malfunctioning doors, or obstructed signage.

Habit 2: Be a Proactive Reporter: Don't ignore potential hazards. Immediately report any concerns to designated personnel, like building management or fire wardens. This allows for prompt action and prevents small issues from escalating.

Habit 3: Stay Informed and Engaged: Actively participate in fire safety training and information sessions. Be aware of evacuation procedures, extinguisher locations, and any updates to building safety protocols. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge with colleagues and encourage open discussions about fire safety.

Habit 4: Embrace Responsible Practices: Integrate fire safety into your daily actions. Here are some steps to take:

  • Dispose of Waste Properly: Use designated bins and avoid accumulating combustible materials.
  • Manage Electrical Usage: Avoid overloading outlets, use extension cords cautiously, and report damaged equipment.
  • Handle Flammables Carefully: Never leave cooking unattended, store flammable liquids securely, and dispose of cigarette butts responsibly.

Habit 5: Cultivate a Safety-First Mindset: Share the responsibility for fire prevention and celebrate and encourage safe behavior among colleagues. By working together, you can create a culture of safety and vigilance within your commercial building.

Wrapping Up

True fire safety goes beyond individual actions; it requires fostering a culture of awareness and vigilance among all occupants.

Fire prevention is an ongoing process, not a one-time fix. By prioritizing proactive measures and cultivating a culture of safety, you can ensure the well-being of your employees, protect your property, and minimize the risk of fire's devastating impact.

Have further questions or need assistance? Reach out to us at Forbel to learn more about safeguarding your commercial property. We’ve been serving the Chicago metropolitan area for the past decade, and we're eager to support your fire safety efforts.

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Dzmitry Beliayeu
CEO
Dzmitry Beliayeu

Dzmitry Beliayeu is a commercial building security expert, technology consultant, and licensed alarm contractor

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