Posted: August 17th, 2022

In Canada, between the years 2010 and 2019, there were approximately 13,297 work-place related fires according to the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General.

The factors contributing to workplace fires are vast and with employees’ lives at risk, it is critical to be aware of these causes so you can improve your workplace fire prevention strategies.

In this post, we’ve taken time to compile a list of 5 of the most common causes of fire in the workplace. Read till the end to see some of our top workplace fire prevention tips.

5 Common Causes of Workplace Fires

Workplace Fire Cause #1 Faulty Electrical Equipment and Circuits

Frayed, incorrect wiring as well as defective electrical equipment can all cause sparks and overheating making them potential ignition sources.

As a business owner, you must have clear answers to the following questions.

How often is the electrical wiring in your building assessed? Who is responsible for tending to electrical equipment and ensuring that it’s not faulty? What is the current response time for fixing unsound electrical problems?

Workplace Fire Cause #2 Negligence and Human Error

Out in the wild, 55% of all wildfires across Canada are caused by humans. In the workplace, human error still finds its place and can also lead to workplace fire incidents.

The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management has identified the top ignition sources as follows:

Source: Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General

Of note for workplace situations are:

·         Cigarettes which are the ignition source for 7% of all structure loss fires

·         Open flame tools which are the ignition source for 3% of all structure loss fires

·         Candles which are the ignition source for 2% of all structure loss fires

·         Matches and lighters which are the ignition source for 1% of all structure loss fires

Workplace Fire Cause #3 Accumulation of Combustible Substances

Combustible wastes, flammable liquids, and hazardous substances are extremely volatile and should be safeguarded and stored as stipulated by corresponding OSHA standards.

Excess combustible materials are a major fire risk and must be kept and handled properly in the workplace.

Workplace Fire Cause #4 Deliberate Vengeful Acts

According to the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General, arson – the criminal act of deliberately setting fire to property – accounted for 9% (6,489 fires) of total structural loss fires reported to the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) between 2010 and 2019.

Workplace Fire Cause #5 Uncollected Refuse and Waste

Every business generates waste of some sort. From office trash right down to rubbish removed from employee kitchens and bathrooms.

Refuse cannot be allowed to accumulate on-site and needs to be routinely cleared out on a daily basis.  

Now that we’re familiar with common fire causes, here are a couple of workplace fire prevention tips.

5 Best Workplace Fire Prevention Tips

Contrary to popular opinion, fire prevention doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s more about employing the best workplace fire safety practices and taking strategic precautions.

Here are some of the leading ways to mitigate workplace fire risk.

Workplace Fire Prevention Tip#1 Install Smoke Detectors

Fire alarms and smoke detectors are among your first line of defence in the workplace. The sooner smoke and fire are detected, the more time employees have to get out of the building.

How many fire alarms and smoke detectors should you install?

The number really depends on several factors: 

After a thorough fire inspection, the fire specialist can give you precise information tailored to your unique situation.

And speaking of fire safety systems in the workplace…

Workplace Fire Prevention Tip#2 Keep Fire Extinguishers on Every Floor

As a business owner, you are mandated by the local provincial Building Codes and Fire Codes to install workplace-appropriate fire extinguishers.

If you’re a business that deals with paper, textiles, cloth, rubber or wood, you run the risk of Class A fires and subsequently should have water-based fire extinguishers on site.

Those businesses with gas, oil, lacquer, or paint manufacturing operations are Class B fire threats and the type of fire extinguishers preferred here are typically carbon dioxide-based.

Industrial workplaces dealing with metals are considered Class D-fire risk businesses and should be equipped with dry powder-containing fire extinguishers.

If you’re unsure about which fire extinguishers you should invest in, consider bringing on board a fire expert to assist with the technicalities.

Workplace Fire Prevention Tip#3 Have Open Conversations on Fire Risk

Regularly discuss and remind your employees of fire risks and how to best prevent fires in the workplace.

Conversations around emergencies and the fire safety plan must be incorporated into workplace training. 

Workplace Fire Prevention Tip#4 Teach Basic Fire Safety Techniques

It’s not enough to simply discuss workplace fire prevention with employees, however. You must take it a step further and teach basic fire safety techniques periodically.

Fire drills can also help to reinforce the message of fire prevention and the need to engage in good workplace fire prevention practices.

Make sure there is a designated fire warden chosen from among the employees and that a handful of people know how to perform First Aid. 

Workplace Fire Prevention Tip#5 Do Not Store Flammable Substances On-Site

Do you have gasoline, solvents or indeed regular waste in and around your workplace? Each of these entities poses a big fire risk.

Do not keep flammable materials within the workplace. 

If you do happen to use such substances, proper occupational health and safety protocols need to be observed and reinforced.

Trash needs to be routinely cleared and smokers warned not to throw the ends of their cigarettes into toilet bins, employee kitchen bins, or indeed anywhere that hasn’t been demarcated as a smoking zone.

The Bottom Line

Taking initiative to learn and promote good workplace fire prevention practices is noble.

If you’re interested in bringing your business up to standard your first step should be scheduling a fire inspection.

For businesses in Waterloo, Ontario keen to discuss fire safety strategies with a specialist don’t hesitate to reach out to All Protect Systems.

We offer a comprehensive line of emergency backup generators, fire alarm systems, fire warning systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, exit lighting, fire safety plans, sprinkler systems, and gas detection services.

Request a free quote today.