fire fighting

How to protect your office building from fire damage

We may not have spent much time in the office this year, but with the imminent arrival of Covid-19 vaccines, we may be heading back into the office sooner than we thought.

Whether your office is part of a high-rise block of multiple units or is a standalone building on the fringes of town, office spaces are highly susceptible to fires. With that in mind, we arm you with information you need to reduce your office fire hazards.

Old or faulty appliances

Modern offices have a variety of electrical appliances, from computers and laptops, to photocopiers and laminators, tv’s and even the odd fax machine. Electrical appliances if not checked regularly could become faulty and potentially become the source of a fire.

This is especially true when it comes to older pieces of electrical equipment that can overheat and if touching paper or carpet or any other flammable material can cause a fire.

Prevention tip: Regularly check appliances and ensure that all are PAT tested. If an appliance fails a PAT test dispose of it properly and immediately. Ensure all employees know not to use an appliance if it has not been PAT tested.

Appliances left switched on

According to recent studies, 31% of fires occur outside of office hours. This is mainly due to electrical appliances, namely computers and laptops being left on or on standby overnight. If this happens regularly, the devices can overheat and can set alight – and with no one there to notice, the fire can ravage the building.

Prevention tip: Investing in automatic opening vents from Window Openers will ensure that should a fire occur, the vents will automatically open multiple windows to channel air through the building and direct the fire away, and reduce the likelihood of the fire spreading further.

Cooking appliances

Many modern offices have designated kitchens for staff to use, and often include appliances like kettles, hot water taps, and microwaves. Unlike in a home environment, office kitchen equipment can be used not only multiple times throughout the day but come break-times could see overuse within a matter of minutes.  This overuse could cause the appliances to get too hot, too quickly and may cause sparks.

Similarly, if workers are distracted or busy, they may leave food – especially in a microwave unattended, or they may even have left some tin foil over their meal. If this occurs and no one is watching a fire could break out.

Prevention tip: Ensure there is enough equipment to cope with higher usage e.g. two microwaves instead of just one, and make sure staff know to alternate between the two to prevent overheating, as well as to watch food to ensure it doesn’t catch fire. In the event of a kitchen fire, make sure a fire extinguisher is readily available.

Smoking

Despite fewer and fewer people every year smoking, there are still a number of employees who take cigarette breaks at work. And more than a third of fire related deaths in non-domestic buildings are caused by smoking materials. Cigarettes that are in bins or close to bins are one of the biggest fire hazards to any office.

Prevention tip: Create a designated smoking area away from the office building and ensure there is a non-flammable place to effectively stub out cigarettes.