How to Prevent Fires from Breaking Out On Your Property

During the chilly winter months very few building managers worry about fires breaking out in their properties. While the cold may be upon us here in Illinois, it is important that commercial building owners always keep fire safety at the forefront of their minds!

Most Common Times for Commercial Fires

If your commercial building is used primarily as an office building, you will notice fires breaking out between normal business hours, with peak times of 3 – 6PM. Work days are most common since this is when most buildings are occupied by tenants.

Outside the work day, fires are 31% less likely to occur.

Most Common Causes of Fires

Why do fires happen?

Cooking Fires. The most common cause of commercial fires are cooking related. in 2013 29.3% of commercial fires were cooking related, with 1 in 4 fires being caused by cooking equipment. To prevent cooking fires, make sure that all appliances are used properly in a kitchen and that smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are installed properly.

Intentional Fires. This isn’t a fun statistic, but almost 10% of fires are intentionally set in a commercial setting. A fire of this type tends to cause the most damage. It also is most likely to result in the highest number of injuries and deaths. Watch the following locations closely for these types of fires:

  • Bathrooms
  • Garbage cans
  • Garages
  • Outdoor break areas

Human Error. Accidents happen and 9.2% of fires are caused by careless acts. These include:

  • Leaving on space heaters or other heating equipment.
  • Discarding cigarette butts. Overloading an extension cord.

Heating Fires. Central heating units count for 9% of commercial building fires. In addition to heating units, fireplaces, water heaters, and other heating appliances should be checked regularly to ensure they are functioning properly and are not a danger to the building.

Prevention Steps

Now that we know the causes of commercial building fires, these are the best way to prevent these fires from happening:

  • Have the proper equipment installed.
    • Fire extinguishers are number one! These should be placed on all floors of your building, in the kitchen, and in all common areas. Make sure instructions are clearly marked, and that everyone knows how to use the extinguishers in case of an emergency.
    • Fire alarms. While obvious, making sure alarms are installed and in working order is a great way to signal that a fire has broken out and that everyone must vacate the building.
    • Sprinkler system. A sprinkler system will help contain or potentially even stop the fire in its tracks.
  • Test all equipment. Having everything installed is great, but without anything working, the extinguishers, alarms, and sprinklers are useless. Test all equipment at least twice a year.
  • Conduct fire escape plans with everyone in the building. Have a plan laid out and make sure all tenants are aware of the escape plan. Run regular fire drills.

If your commercial property experiences fire damage this winter, McMahon Services is here to help. Contact us for more information. We proudly provide free estimates to Chicago, Libertyville, Oak Park, Evanston, and surrounding areas, and our fire damage emergency team is available 24/7 for your convenience.