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March 18, 2021


Lithium-Ion batteries. A guide to the fire risk that isn’t going away but can be managed

5 likely causes of office fires – and how to prevent them

Employees should feel safe at work in every way. Office fires can not only endanger lives but also business assets and livelihoods. That’s why it’s important to understand the most common causes of office fires and how to prevent them from happening.

In this article, Fire Action explores some potential fire risks posed in the standard office – and how you can stop them in their tracks.

1) Lack of staff awareness or training for office fires

It’s all very well having the right fire safety equipment and procedures in place – but little use if your staff lack awareness, training and education of how to respond to office fires. This absence of education can also increase the chance of human error or mistakes, potentially resulting in a fire emergency.

To prevent this:

  • Ensure you have the right number of fire wardens trained up to correspond to your size of business and its risk factor. Wardens are a legal requirement for every workplace and it’s their duty to minimise the risk of fire and to play a vital role in emergency situations. Be sure to have suitable numbers to cover key areas of the building and think about holidays and sickness which will inevitably impact on their availability.
  • You should also communicate fire safety procedures and information to the wider employee base, too, making sure they are aware of any revisions or changes. This can be done through company-wide training, signs or written guidelines.
  • Training and communication can reduce the likelihood of human errors occurring through negligence or lack of awareness.

2) Absence of correct or working equipment

Smoke detectors, fire doors, signage, fire extinguishers and fire blankets are just some of the fire safety equipment which can hugely benefit a business in a fire emergency. Absence of correct or working equipment will be bad news in a real fire situation.

  • Make sure you have the right equipment in the right places to suit your office
  • It’s not enough to have this equipment though – it also needs to be in good working shape and regularly maintained by a competent professional
  • As well as hiring the services of a professional for maintenance, it’s also wise to regularly test your fire alarms yourself to catch problems early
  • Also, do you have the right type of equipment to suit your office space? Different types of fires require different types of extinguisher – for example, you should never put out a flammable liquid fire with water. To establish exactly the right equipment that your business will require, simply get a professional fire safety company to assess your office with a fire risk assessment and make recommendations on which pieces to use and where to put them 

3) Clutter and disorganisation

A cluttered or disorganised office can lead to an accumulation of flammable material which will increase the fire load – not only does this pose a greater fire risk, this clutter could also obstruct emergency exits and even make the escape routes difficult to travel along if there are burning materials along the way. Lack of organisation can also result in flammable liquids or gases being improperly or unsafely stored.

FireAction-OfficeFires-21To prevent this:

  • Employ cleaning staff for your office to keep it tidy and free of waste
  • Deal with stock or deliveries promptly so they don’t pile up and obstruct escape routes and exits
  • Ensure you’re aware of any flammable or combustible liquids or gases present in your office, ensuring they are correctly and safely stored to minimise risk

4) Electrical equipment

There’s no avoiding electrical equipment in a modern office. Computers, wires, televisions, phones, tablets – our workplaces have never been more connected. All it takes is an overloaded socket/extension lead, a damaged or loose socket or an overheated appliance to increase the risk of fire.

Luckily, there are easy steps you can take to reduce the risk of electrical fires.

  • Have your entire electrical installation checked and certificated as safe every five years by a suitably competent contractor
  • Regularly check your office electrical items for faulty plugs or damaged and loose wiring. You can also make sure staff stay vigilant of these signs, too
  • Have regular PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) carried out and regular maintenance of electrical equipment too, as this can identify developing issues before they occur
  • Replace or repair any equipment that is faulty (and ensure that any equipment that is unsafe is removed from service and is clearly labelled as unfit for use). The key items that suffer damage most frequently are kettles, toasters and hoovers, as all of these are regularly used. It may be tempting to leave it and save money, but the fire risk it poses could result in loss of assets, lives and livelihoods, which far outweigh the cost.

5) Arson

It’s a sad fact that sometimes outside influence will be the cause of an office fire, namely arson. Enhancing the security of your business is the best way to deter criminals and stop them in their tracks to reduce the likelihood of an arson attack.

  • Install an adequate number of CCTV cameras with appropriate signage. The very appearance of cameras and signs can sometimes be enough to deter criminals
  • Also ensure that you have intruder alarm systems set up to alert you of break-ins or intruders round the clock

Finally, get a professional on board…

An experienced, competent security and fire safety company, such as Fire Action, will be able to offer a professional opinion on your current safety measures and recommend the best course of action, tailored to your business. They will also be a go-to expert when you require equipment maintenance, repair and replacement – making them a one-stop shop to keep your business safe.  


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