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How to Prevent Fires in the Workplace

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Workplace safety can often be something that is only paid attention to if something goes wrong. However, that is not how proper safety is approached. Safety necessitates understanding risk and putting preventive measures in place, which is even more important in fire safety.

Even someone who has only received limited fire warden training will know that the most effective method of fire prevention is to put in preventive measures against it beforehand. Most of the time, an effective fire safety system is more effective in controlling the spread of fire, because even with proper protections, accidents can happen.

But our current focus here is not only on equipment or fire escape systems but rather, on best practices regarding fire prevention. Here, we present a few ways in which you can prevent fires in the workplace, and even help in controlling their spread to minimize damages.

Cleanliness and Hygiene are Critical

Hygiene and cleanliness matter in both having a cleaning staff that performs effectively and regularly, as well as humane working conditions that allow employees to stay clean.

If the workplace is cluttered, it makes it difficult for employees to perform their everyday duties. Keeping up tidiness is a necessity for all workplaces, regardless of their general environment. It allows employees to have minimum hurdles when having to access fire escapes or conduct fire emergency procedures.

Regular Maintenance of Machinery and Equipment is Necessary

Machinery and other equipment (especially electrical) need to be maintained regularly. More often than not, this equipment is running round the clock, with no backups in place.

Equipment that is maintained and given downtime can protect it from overheating, as well as reduce the chances of short circuits or sparks from occurring. There also needs to be qualified staff for handling any electrical equipment, along with proper training for all employees to be able to report any electrical incidents at once.

Maintenance Also Includes Regular Testing of Emergency Systems

In large buildings, especially enclosed office spaces, it can be difficult or even impossible for some workers to be aware of a fire occurring elsewhere in a building. To prevent such instances, a fire alarm system is put in place so that the entire building is made aware of the emergency.

However, that also means the fire alarm system needs to be checked regularly to make sure it does not malfunction. Malfunctioning fire alarm systems are a prevalent cause of fire in the US, where 3 of 5 fire deaths occurred in places without an alarm. Regular testing and maintenance of fire alarms can allow for repair work to be conducted beforehand.

Safe and Responsible Storage Goes a Long Way

Any employee using a chemical product has to know how to best use them, as well as how to store them. Moreover, proper equipment and storage spaces for those chemicals need to be provided. Certain chemical substances may need ventilation, insulation, or fire-proof cabinets.

Areas near chemical storage should not have any open flames either, as that is a potential fire hazard.

Easy Access to Equipment Can Prevent a Fire from Spreading

In a fire, it is important to shut down all electric equipment and make use of any fire equipment there is to control the spread of the fire. In such situations, every second counts, so easier access to all this equipment can mean the difference between everyone getting out in time or lives being lost.

Equipment that is also away from hazardous substances and materials that may cause a fire or spread through it can be of great help. It is no use to have fire safety equipment that gets engulfed in flames the minute any flames burst out, so keeping these things both easy to access and away from combustible material should always be a priority.

Understand Combustible Materials and Potential Fire Hazards

Speaking of combustible materials, knowing the source of the fire is also crucial for stopping a fire. An electrical fire is not the same as one caused by chemicals, and different ignition sources can have different effects. Clothes are combustible, but a fire safety blanket can stop certain types of fires from spreading.

The types of fires also change the types of fire extinguishers necessary. Fire extinguishers do not have a one-size-fits-all approach to fires. Some are effective against fires caused by electrical equipment, while others might not. Understanding fire extinguishers and the types of fires is a whole different topic, so we won’t delve any deeper into it here.

Keep Smoking Areas Separate

While smoking is hazardous to health, it is also a popular pastime among many workers across various industries. Health concerns aside, most workplaces may have a designated smoking area for employees to take smoke breaks, while others may simply direct the workers outside of the premises to do so. Improper disposal of cigarette butts can be a fire hazard as well.

However, it should be noted that smoking near storage areas, or anything even remotely flammable, smoking should be avoided. Even if employees are directed outside of the buildings for a smoke, it should only be allowed in places where open flames (such as from lighters) are allowed.


Fires are one of the most common hazards and emergencies at a workplace, and preventing them means more than just putting a few emergency measures in place. Here, we provide a few best practices for fire prevention so that you may exercise safety as well.

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