Office fires in the United States are a regular issue, causing 44 injuries, 4 deaths, and $112 million in direct property damage on average each year. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments in the USA respond to an average of 3,340 office fires annually. These fires generally occur between noon and 2 PM, and are most likely to be caused by cooking equipment, electrical distribution, lighting equipment, and heating equipment (accounting for 60% of the total office fires). So, how can you prevent these fires from occurring? What precautions can be taken to make fire safety your office’s priority? Here are five ways to prevent high-rise office fires:

  1. The first thing you should be doing is making sure your office has an action emergency plan in place, that it is updated, and that everyone is trained and educated in its implementation. The importance of action emergency plans was mentioned in a previous blog post. These plans are just as important for offices as they are for residences. Businesses are actually legally required to have an action emergency plan in place by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The plan should include but not be limited to the procedure for reporting fires, having an evacuation policy, the procedure for accounting for all of the employees, and assignment of rescue and medical duties. Make sure all emergency exits and escape routes are always clear of any blockages, so the action emergency plan does not run into any problems.

  2. Make sure all fire safety equipment is maintained and undergoes routine checks. This includes fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, and smoke detectors. If there is a fire and any of these malfunctions, there can be fatal consequences.

  3. When non-essential office equipment is not in use, make sure it is unplugged. Keep the areas around these appliances are clean, and make sure there isn’t an overabundance of appliances plugged into one powerstrip at the same time. Lastly, make sure the wires from these appliances are not frayed.

  4. Keep all office equipment regularly repaired and serviced. Maintenance is key. If one device malfunctions and sparks, the whole place could go up in smoke. Avoid that by making sure all office equipment works properly.

  5. Have your office assessed for fire risk and follow any recommendations. All recommendations, from rearranging office equipment so it doesn’t overheat, to purchasing new fire safety equipment such as new fire extinguishers or smoke detectors, should be taken seriously.

Fire safety in the office is something to take seriously. The last thing you want is an employee getting injured or worse, due to all the proper precautions not being met. People’s lives should come first and foremost, and that is why safety should be a top priority when setting up and maintaining an office.