Historically many fires occurred due to the careless disposal of cigarette smoking material, into wastepaper baskets.  As a result of the “no-smoking” bans in most businesses, such fires have become less common.  However, in today's world of electronic office equipment, there has been an increase in fire incidents due to faulty electrical equipment and wiring.

It is important to work with staff and management to identify potential fire hazards and what can be done to remove or limit the hazard.  Here is a list of common causes of fire:

Open Flames

  • negligence in conducting hot work, such as welding, cutting or grinding;
  • improper use of candles;
  • improper handling of flammable or combustible liquids or flammable gases in near-to-potential ignition sources; and
  • matches and cigarettes that are improperly disposed of, or left unattended near combustibles.

plugFireElectrical

  • damaged electrical conductors, plug wires or extension cords;
  • use of faulty, modified or unapproved electrical equipment;
  • insufficient space or clearance between electrical heating equipment and combustibles;
  • short or overloaded circuits;
  • loose electrical connections; and
  • lighting.

Cooking

  • deep frying in pots or pans on stove tops;
  • unattended cooking appliances; and
  • combustibles located dangerously close to cooking equipment.

Spontaneous Ignition and the Ignition of Waste Materials

  • improper disposal of materials susceptible to spontaneous combustion, such as oily rags from wood finishing or polishing;
  • accumulation of organic materials, such as green hay, grain or woodchips; and
  • accumulation of waste combustible materials near potential sources of ignition.

Here is a list of Fire Safety Tips to assist in making the workplace safer:

Fire Safety Tips

  • Do not use electrical equipment that is in poor condition or that has a damaged cord.
  • Do not overload circuits or extension cords, read producers specifications.
  • Use approved power bars instead of circuit splitters.
  • Keep all heat-producing appliances away from the wall and away from anything that might burn.
  • Leave plenty of space for air to circulate around equipment that normally gives off heat.
  • Ensure small appliances such as heaters, fans etc. are shut off before exiting the building.
  • Make sure all appliances, such as coffee makers and hot plates, are turned off when not in use.
  • Toasters and microwave ovens should be located in kitchen areas only.
  • Avoid deep fat frying, or use a thermostat controlled appliance and never leave it unattended.
  • Keep all combustible materials, such as paper towels and cloths, at a safe distance from heat sources.
  • Keep storage areas, stairway landings and other out-of-way locations free of waste paper, empty cartons, dirty rags and other material that could fuel a fire.
  • Ensure office doors and ancillary office doors, for example, file room and hallway doors, are closed when exiting the building.
  • Ensure heat registers are clear of combustible items such as paper at all times.

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