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The Common Causes Of Fires In Business Premises… And How To Guard Against Them

Updated: Jan 12, 2023

As a business owner, having your own commercial premises can present many risks that you may not anticipate - particularly if you have little or no experience conducting risk assessments.

On top of your routine business operations, you will now have several additional factors to consider, such as staff safety, building security, stock protection, and ensuring the safety of visitors and members of the public.

All these factors can present additional security risks and increase the risk of a fire breakout on your property.

As a business owner, it is your legal responsibility to mitigate these risks in order to protect your colleagues, clients, and visitors from harm. Businesses that do not adequately protect themselves against fires risk financial losses and even legal repercussions if the company is found to be at fault. In fact, 80% of businesses are seriously affected following a major fire on commercial premises.

Here, we will explore the common causes of fires on business premises, and outline the steps you can take to protect your property and the people within it.

Electrical Faults

Electrical faults are one of the most common causes of fires in both commercial and private properties. These can include fires caused by faulty heating and cooling systems, loose wiring, damaged electrical connections, or even overloaded extension leads.

Fires triggered by electrical faults may be difficult to put out, as they cannot be extinguished using water. This may mean that it takes longer to put out an electrical fire.

This is an issue as the longer a fire takes to put out, the more damage it can do to your property and everyone within it - thereby costing your company more money and increasing the risk of your staff or members of the public getting injured.

Electrical fires can be prevented by regularly checking your equipment and repairing or discarding any items with faulty wiring. Replacing your equipment regularly will cost you much less in the long run than recovering your business after a fire!

Furthermore, as an employer, you are legally obliged to check the safety of your equipment under the Health And Safety At Work Act (1974).

Flammable Materials

If your company takes a lot of stock, or handles large quantities of paperwork, you may find that packaging and paper build up quickly. But piles of cardboard boxes and packing paper can present many fire risks, such as the potential to block fire doors and exits, and to easily catch fire.

Keeping flammable materials in a safe place, such as a metal waste bin or drawer, can help to prevent fires from starting and/or spreading across the building. All employees should also be trained in effective fire safety protocols, and prompted to move any items that could present fire risks.


Arson accounts for 45% of all fires in commercial and private properties, and every year, there are 3,000 arson attacks on UK businesses. Arson poses a significant risk to the lives of employees and customers alike, and can cost businesses tens of thousands of pounds in property damage.

The risk of arson can be greatly reduced by implementing efficient security measures in your business, such as installing CCTV to deter and identify potential perpetrators, and ensuring that doors and windows are locked and checked before staff leave the premises.

In addition, Bedfordshire Fire Department recommends enacting the following measures to protect against arson attacks:

Reduce The Opportunity To Start A Fire - Many acts of arson are impulsive, and as such, reducing the opportunity for someone to start a fire can help to prevent arson attacks.

By simply removing flammable items from public places, ensuring proper waste management, limiting access to combustible materials and fittings, and adhering to security guidelines, you can therefore minimise the likelihood of somebody starting a fire on your property.

Reduce The Spread Of Fire - Installing efficient fire detection and alarm systems, fire doors, and closing gaps or vents in building walls are all effective ways to limit the spread of fire throughout your premises. This helps to keep staff and customers safe and reduces any financial losses you may incur due to fire.

Stop Unauthorised People From Entering Your Business - Preventing unauthorised access to restricted areas will reduce the risk of trespassers deliberately or unintentionally starting a fire.

For example, ensuring adequate security by installing access controls or automatic gates will help to prevent trespassers from accessing your property.

Intruder alarms and CCTV systems are also effective choices of deterrent against trespassers, and can help to catch the perpetrator(s) if a crime is committed on your property.

Cooking Equipment

Whether it's a restaurant kitchen or your staff break room, cooking equipment can present a wide range of fire and safety risks. All cooking equipment should be regularly inspected, maintained, and (if required) replaced, to prevent these items causing electrical fires.

In addition, all staff should be given fire safety training and made familiar with your fire safety procedures in the event of an outbreak.

Want to ensure your business is properly protected against fires and other security threats? Give us a call!


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