Office Fire Safety

An office fire can be devastating, resulting in the loss of life, business interruption or permanent closure, jobs, property and information. Offices are loaded with combustibles: carpeting, draperies, papers, books, wood and upholstered furniture, plastic laminate, vinyl-fabric-covered furniture, wood panelling, as well as electrically powered toasters, microwave ovens, kettles, computers and other appliances. Combine these with the human element and the stage is set for a potentially devastating fire.

  • Keep the combustible load – carpeting, upholstered furniture – to a minimum.
  • Keep exits clear of combustibles e.g. discarded paper and empty cartons.
  • In designated areas where smoking is permitted, provide the proper disposal of smoking materials, like an outdoor cigarette receptacle.
  • Provide adequate clearance and circulation of air between combustible material and hot surfaces or heat sources such as copy machines, word processors and computers.
  • Unplug electrical appliances – coffee makers, space heaters and hot plates – when not in use.
  • Restrict and monitor the use of heaters and hot plates.
  • To ensure they meet code requirements, all electrical distribution systems should be checked by a professional/certified electrician.
  • Perform regularly scheduled and recorded maintenance of electrical equipment.
  • Prevent access to the office by unauthorized personnel.
  • Keep flammables properly stored and secured.
  • Provide adequate security: exterior/interior lighting, intrusion alarms, guard service, well-secured access openings.
  • Provide automatic sprinkler protection and/or heat, smoke and fire alarm systems. Adequate sprinkler coverage is the key to providing the most effective fire protection in buildings.
  • Strategically locate the portable fire extinguishers suitable for particular fire hazards, and train key employees on their proper operation.
  • Establish an ‘Emergency Team’ and train each member on how to respond to fire emergencies.
  • Develop a fire emergency evacuation plan and conduct at least two fire drills per year in order to familiarize office personnel on how to respond to fire emergencies.
  • Obtain assistance from your local fire department on fire prevention, use of fire extinguishers, inspections and emergency response procedures.