Posted in Emergency Evacuations, Fire Life Safety Training, Fire Safety, Fires

Fire Hazards in Office Buildings

Office Fire is a Serious Subject

Occasionally, we have to tackle serious subjects. Today, we’re dealing with one such topic… building fire safety. According to my good pals at the National Fire Protection Agency, there were 112,000 non-residential structure fires in 2008 which resulted in $3.8 billion in property damages.  Those really tall buildings are especially at risk as fires can spread rapidly and higher floors are can be out of reach for even the largest fire trucks.

Building owners should work closely with tenants to discuss fire hazards to prevent loss of property or life. The potential loss of sensitive data or documents should make them a relatively receptive audience. I know that my ears would certainly perk up if someone told me there that my doghouse is at risk.

Reducing the incidence of fires in buildings can be reduced by identifying contributing factors and minimizing risks. Come to think of it, that’s the best way to handle any type of hazard!

Space heaters:

In enclosed spaces near papers, these are famous for starting fires.

  • Space heaters use a lot of electricity and the use of several units can lead to high utility bills
  • Older space heaters that don’t have auto shutoff can start fire if they are tipped over

Office Equipment and Appliances:

  • Make sure that coffee makers, copiers and computers have plenty of clearance for proper air circulation.
  • Papers should not be stacked on or around equipment. (This includes puppy training papers, too.)
  • Restrict the use of hotplates and other portable heating items. (I prefer my food right out of the can. No need for heating.)

Wiring and Power:

  • Older wiring that is mixed with newer wiring can lead to sparking, which can cause fires.
  • Buildings that fail to keep current with electrical code standards are particularly at risk.
  • Overuse of extension cords and power strips can lead to fire. This risk has increased, recently, since people at home and work use so many electronic devices. Overloaded circuits or power cords routed under combustible carpets can also lead to fire.

Combustible materials:

  • Modern offices typically have highly combustible materials such as file folders, wooden partitions, upholstered furniture, carpeted floors, and wooden doors
  • Combustibles can be decreased by choosing metal furniture, installing fire-rated doors, and moving towards paperless record keeping


Don’t forget about cigarettes! Cigarettes and cigars remain among the leading causes of fire. Even in buildings that prohibit smoking inside buildings, some unruly tenants may not comply with regulations. Strict enforcement of no-smoking policies and the provision of safe outside smoking areas can keep recreational smoking from leading to fire. Outside ash containers should be heavy so they will not tip over. And caution should be taken when disposing of ash.

Fire risks can be greatly reduced by establishing and enforcing safety policies for all of your tenants. The RJ Westmore Training System can help you mitigate these and other potential disasters. Visit my friends at RJ and ask about the recently released Version 2.0 of our award-winning training program. Choosing our program cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training!

Most importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!