Fire is an element that holds the ability to terrify most people and a large portion of the animal kingdom. It destroys property and, when it does touch a person, causes horrific injuries or death. In times when being alive was a government sanctioned execution, the spectacle served as ample warning to the population at large to toe the line. Modern America does not need to fear an event like the Chicago fire, not only because cities are not built primarily from wood anymore. Now there are fire alarm systems and fire alarm inspections and fire sprinkler systems and their inspections, giving people a layer of safety. However, large fires do still erupt, often in commercial venues. This can happen for a variety of reasons, some outside of any person’s control, and here are five of the most common.
- Cooking: Mention cooking as the cause for a fire, the first image most will have is of a residential property. However, this is the most common cause across the board. This is generally caused by a person cooking away from the kitchen area both in homes and in the businesses where they occur.
- Electrical: These fires are usually caused by a system that becomes overloaded or has been improperly maintained or by a contractor’s violation of electrical codes. This can happen with the initial construction of a building or later on when a repair person comes in and performs subpar work.
- Heaters and Boilers: There are two ways these types of fires usually occur. The first is a lack of maintenance on the heater or boiler, leading to catastrophic failure. The other occurs when the area is used for storage, an ill-fated choice when the items stored are combustible.
- Smoking: This has no place to attribute blame except on a person, but it is generally accidental. Gone are the days when smoking was the leading cause for fires, but it still is often the source of commercial fires, either in designated areas or somewhere an employee sneaks off to smoke.
- Arson: These deliberately set fires in some ways are the most frightening. However, most cases of arson are committed upon an empty building, with the focus being on the fire, not a desire to harm. The property damage still is immense and arson has of course been known to harm, such as in cases where it is used to cover up another crime or where the arsonist may be mentally ill.
Given the many diverse causes for commercial fires, business owners and managers should be rigorous in their implementation of fire response drills and fire protection services. It’s not good enough to simply have the fire alarm without regular fire alarm inspections. Without fire alarm inspections, inspection of any fire protection services no mistakes or issues can be found, if they exist, before a problem arises.