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How Most Fires Start (and How to Prevent Them)

How Most Fires Start (and How to Prevent Them)

Posted 8/15/2022

Alt Title: The X Most Common Ways That Fires Start

Most fires are entirely preventable, but to effectively prevent them, you need to understand and proactively address potential fire origins. There are many potential sources of fire to consider, ranging from accidental to intentional, and you'll need to have a plan in place for all of them if you want to minimize your fire risk as much as possible.

The Most Common Causes of Fire

These are some of the most common causes of fire in home and business environments.

·       Appliances and faulty equipment. In home environments, more than half of all fires start in the kitchen. That's not a coincidence. It's because the kitchen is usually home to several appliances, including ovens and stoves, which can easily start a fire due to a technical malfunction or misuse by an individual. In business environments, this is also the case. If a piece of your equipment isn't working properly, if the internal electrical wiring is in bad shape, or if one of your people is misusing the equipment, it could easily start a fire. This risk increases if the piece of equipment is designed to produce heat or flames, or if the equipment is old and in need of maintenance. The best way to minimize this threat is to purchase appliances and equipment from reliable manufacturers and practice proactive maintenance to keep them in good condition. It's also important to train and educate the people using these appliances and pieces of equipment, so the risk of misuse declines.

·       Lit candles and open flames. Anytime there's an open flame, there's a chance for that flame to spread. Many of us like to light candles for greater ambiance and pleasant aromas, but leaving those candles unattended is a big no-no. The same is true for an open flame in a fireplace or an industrial application. If you're going to have flames in or anywhere near your building, it's important to keep them actively supervised and controlled.

·       Holiday lights. Every year, thousands of homes go up in flames because of holiday lights. These decorative adornments often get hotter than you think, and it doesn't take much to light up a burnable material. If you want to hang holiday lights, do so responsibly and don't leave them unattended.

·       Bad wiring. Electrical fires are surprisingly common, in part because it only takes one spark to start a fire that can burn down an entire building. Modern electrical wiring practices are designed with fire safety in mind, so most of the problems stem from old styles of wiring (like knob and tube wiring) or electrical errors and damage to existing systems. If you're not sure about the safety of your electrical system, it's a good idea to have a professional inspection done. If your electrical wiring is an inherent fire risk, you may want to consider spending the money upgrading it.

·       Smoking. Smoking is illegal in most buildings in the United States, but that doesn't change the fact that smoking is still a massive fire hazard. If people are smoking in or around your building, you should note that it only takes one lit cigarette to send a building up in flames. Set rules for smokers in your organization and enforce those rules consistently to avoid this risk.

·       Flammable chemicals and gases. If your company deals with flammable gases or chemicals, it's important to take the risks associated with these materials seriously. Follow all standards and guidelines for handling and managing these materials to avoid the risk of igniting them. What's most important here is ensuring that all your employees are following safety procedures responsibly and consistently.

·       Lightning. Lightning is exceedingly powerful. If a bolt of lightning strikes your property directly, it could cause massive damage instantaneously, to both the outer structure and your electrical systems. If you're unlucky, that bolt of lightning could also start a fire. There isn't much you can do about this natural disaster other than installing a lightning rod.

·       Arson. Occasionally, fires are started by arsonists deliberately attempting to do damage or hurt people. The best defense against arsonists is to install a better security system; most people will abandon their desire to start a fire if they know they're going to be caught on camera doing it.

·       Children. Many home buyers are started by children who don't understand the risks associated with playing with fire. In a business, you probably won't have to deal with this threat.

Preventing Fires

What are the best ways to prevent fires overall?

·       Risk elimination. We've covered some of the biggest and most important risks to consider in the fire prevention world. Your goal is to eliminate those risks entirely. Some of them can't be totally eliminated; for example, you can't stop lightning from striking or shut down an arsonist who's totally dedicated to burning down your building. But you can minimize all of these risks to an acceptable level.

·       Education. It's also important to educate and train anybody operating within your property. Make sure all your employees, staff members, and customers understand where the biggest fire hazards are and how to manage them. It's also important to publicize your evacuation plan in case there is a fire.

·       Active monitoring and response. Finally, it's important to have active monitoring and response measures in place. Are your supervisors trained to actively respond to a fire in progress? Do you have fire alarms and fire suppression systems in place?

The Value of a Fire Suppression System

No matter how careful you are in preventing fires, there’s a chance a fire could start at your home or business. If it does, your best defensive tool is a fire suppression system. Fire suppression systems are designed to activate automatically, applying water – or better yet, dry chemicals and clean agents – to stop the fire in its tracks.

To learn more about the value of dry chemical fire suppression systems or to get a free quote, contact us directly today!