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Common Causes of Workplace Fire

Every year fire claims numerous lives and damages several properties. Of these, workplace fires are quite common.

There is a host of fire risks at workplaces. From failure of equipment to human errors, there can be various causes of workplace fires. Therefore, employees need to be trained in effective measures that should be taken to prevent fires and handle such emergencies.

The impacts of fire are quite disastrous. In addition to the fatalities, injuries and damage of property, the financial burden can turn out to be large enough for small businesses to close doors. Therefore, it is important to identify the causes of fire beforehand and stay prepared.

Let’s take a look at the major causes of workplace fire.

Electrical Equipment

Most electrical equipment are prone to fire. Old electrical equipment, overloaded plugs, loose wires etc. can turn out to be potential risks of fire. Most fires are caused by misused and damaged electrical appliances. Therefore, it is important to follow proper protocols while using such equipment to prevent electrical fire.

Cords should not be left coiled up while in use. Overloading circuits should be avoided at all costs. Extension cords should only be used when the electrical equipment is in use. All electrical equipment should be thoroughly tested before use.

Flammable Materials

Many workplaces store combustible materials. These can turn out to be major risks of fire if their storage conditions are not appropriate. All flammable chemicals and materials should be stored according to set standards.

In addition to that, handling and transportation of these materials should be done following safe procedures. Also, appropriate disposal methods should be followed to ensure complete safety.

Cooking Equipment

Most offices have certain cooking appliances like microwave ovens, refrigerators, coffee makers, stoves etc. These can turn out to be causes of fire. Therefore, extreme precaution should be taken while handling these materials. Cooking should never be left unattended. Rooms containing these cooking equipment should have smoke detectors installed to alert staff of a possible fire.

A food service business is at a high risk of grease fire. If grease is spilled on cooking equipment, it can cause a large flame.


Workplaces that permit smoking inside the premises can be at a high risk of fire hazard. A poorly set up smoking area may turn out to be a potential cause of fire. Additionally, unauthorized smoking inside the office can be a major problem as well.

One of the best ways to prevent such a situation is by prohibiting smoking indoors.


Most fire incidents are caused owing to the fact that many employees fail to follow the proper procedures of handling various equipment or while engaging in an activity that has a potential fire hazards. All employees should be trained in preventive procedures that should be followed.

Various errors may include storing boxes and other materials blocking the exit, incorrect methods followed for disposal of things with fire hazard, covering the machinery that require adequate ventilation and so on.

To avoid such situations, it is important to provide adequate training to employees. A set of precautionary measures should be devised and implemented to reduce the risk of fire.

When the staff is negligent, identifying the cause of a fire can be a little difficult. In that case, a competent fire investigator can be of help to determine the cause.

Fire Hazards in Close Proximity

While a workplace can be prone to a fire hazard from various equipment inside the office building, there can be several sources of fire in close proximity to the building as well. For example, a fire in a building nearby can spread into other buildings as well.

In addition to that, trees, bushes, dumpsters near the building can catch fire quickly. Such spontaneous combustible sources can turn out to be fire hazards.

Additional Fire Hazards

Apart from the ones mentioned above, there could also be other sources of fire including electrical wiring, natural gas, heating elements like furnaces or heaters etc. Stray sparks from heating equipment landing on paper, rugs, lint etc. can turn out to be major fire hazards as well.

Spilled oil or gasoline should be cleaned up quickly. All electrical wiring should be installed by licensed electricians only. Employees should also know how to use a fire extinguisher. Following proper procedures will reduce the risk of fire considerably.

This content has been written by Katie Smith for Lerablog on behalf of firesafetyconsultant.com

One Comment

  1. Levi Armstrong

    I agree with what you said that extreme precaution should be taken when handling appliances that can cause fire, especially in offices where cooking is allowed. Yesterday, when I was about to eat in our office kitchen, I was bewildered to see that one of my co-workers who was cooking his lunch left the gas stove unattended. It was a good thing I was there to turn the stove off. If this happens again and our office is burned down, my boss would have to hire a fire damage claims adjuster to be able to pay for the damages.

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