More than 11,000 fires were recorded in non-dwelling properties in England in 2018/19, posing the question: how do commercial fires most often start? It is worth noting that better fire safety awareness and improved equipment has significantly reduced non-dwelling fires – from more than 26,000 in 2001/02. However, the cost of a commercial fire can be very high – often running into tens of thousands of pounds or even more.
Protecting business premises from the effects of a fire is important – not just in terms of life preservation but to ensure a company can survive the aftermath of a blaze. Making sure your property has robust insurance and modern fire-fighting equipment is essential. The number of businesses, especially SMEs, that fail following a fire is alarming. To help you understand the most common risks, we have prepared some simple facts. They highlight the dangers most likely to start a fire.
By taking on board the known causes and carrying out regular risk assessments, you can plan for the worst – and reduce the impact. Fire injures and kills and is a leading cause of the loss of valuable data as well as equipment and goods. It is also worth bearing in mind that while there are many accidental causes, fires can also be started with intent. We hope you find this information useful.
Commercial fires – causes
In the UK incidents of commercial fires fall into a number of categories. The most common causes include:
1 – Kitchen fires
This type of fire is considered the most common of all commercial fires. While many people associate such fires with dwellings, commercial premises are no exception. Think of restaurants, take-aways, hotels, food processing businesses and works canteens. In the UK, chip fryers, dirty surfaces near cooking equipment and faulty appliances are mostly to blame. To minimise risks, ensure staff are aware of best practices, keep kitchen areas clean and be vigilant when it comes to using fryers. Food should never be left unattended and loose clothing, along with long-sleeved tops, should be avoided in this environment. You can further reduce risks by correctly storing chemicals away from heat and ensuring surfaces are fire resistant.
2 – Electrical fires
Outdated equipment, overloaded sockets and faulty appliances are among the leading causes of electrical fires. Never plug more than one appliance into a socket and ensure any new equipment is PAT tested before it is plugged in and used. Ensure staff know they cannot plug in appliances they have brought to work from home. If you are having work carried out in your premises, ensure contractors follow safety guidelines and that they do not breach any regulatory codes.
3 – Heating and / or boiler fires
Poor maintenance can cause fires in both heating appliances and boilers. Be especially vigilant with heating equipment in storage areas and make sure your boiler is regularly serviced.
4 – Deliberate fires
Buildings left unattended, particularly at night or weekends, are at a higher risk of arson. Commercial premises are no exception. It pays to protect a building that is not in 24-hour use with automatic sprinklers to ensure action is taken before a fire has had the chance to take hold. This way, a blaze can be contained while the emergency services are on their way. Arson attacks have the potential to cause serious damage. Consider how your business would continue to operate after such an incident.
5 – Discarded cigarettes
In the past, smoking was a leading cause of fire in commercial premises. However, with the smoking ban now well established, many businesses have taken the savvy approach of ensuring any outside smoking areas are located well away from a building. In certain types of buildings, however, smoking may still pose a risk. In hotels, guests may try to have a crafty smoke. Be aware of this potential danger and take steps to mitigates the effects.
How many businesses fail after a fire?
It is estimated that up to 80 per cent of businesses that suffer from serious commercial fires fail within 18 months. Others take literally years to fully recover. An overview of what is at stake is given is this feature by Elite Business Magazine.
Nationwide Water Solutions encourage commercial enterprises to take a pragmatic and robust approach to fire prevention, detection and containment. As well as serving the commercial sector, we work with those in industry. Our aim is to ensure automatic sprinkler systems have access to dedicated water supplies to start tackling a fire straight away. One of the biggest reasons (though not the only one) why fires devastate buildings is because they can take too long to detect. Fires cannot always be predicted, and they most certainly can’t always be prevented. However, there is a lot you can do to reduce the risks.
Automatic fire sprinklers are now commonplace in commercial and industrial buildings. That is because the are effective in tackling the commercial fire from the outset. We recommend you learn more about the benefits of sprinklers and take action to safeguard your building, people and future success.
Commercial fire sprinkler tank
We are nationwide installers of fire sprinkler tanks fore commercial buildings. We help businesses look after their assets with solutions tailored to the needs of their specific site. Based in Yorkshire, we service commercial clients across the UK. As well as installing fire sprinkler tanks, we also maintain them.
Our sprinkler tank repair and refurbishment services include relining. We also operate an independent inspection service and recommended businesses with sprinkler tanks have their system checked annually. If the impact of a fire is of concern, don’t wait to get expert advice. We provide free site surveys for those interested in having a dedicated water supply for sprinkler systems.
With fully qualified experts, we are nationally recognised specialists and provide solutions for a wide range of building types. If you are not sure of your requirements or are concerned that existing facilities have not been independently inspected for a while, get in touch. Our experts provide free technical advice.
For further information about sprinkler tank re-lining or our inspection service, visit our website.