A fire in an office or store can be devastating to a community.
In addition to potential deaths and property loss, people may lose their jobs, and the community may lose a vital service provided by the business.
There were 16,500 office and store fires in the United States in 2020 that caused $932 million in direct property damage.
Cooking is the leading cause of office and store fires.
Leading causes of office and store fires (2020)
Other unintentional, careless
Modern building design and fire codes protect most offices and stores from fire.
However, there are important fire safety practices that employees and employers should follow to help prevent workplace fires, keep workers safe, and keep offices and stores open.
- Check for damaged or overloaded electrical outlets, cords and cables.
- Keep anything that can burn away from electrical equipment.
- Never leave portable heating devices unattended.
- Keep workspace and equipment clean, dry and well ventilated.
- Plan and practice multiple escape routes in case one is blocked.
- Ensure windows can be opened and screens can be removed.
- Remove any obstacles from exits.
Employers need to prepare for emergencies.
- Ensure that all fire protection features are properly designed, installed and maintained.
- Post clear fire escape plans on every level of a building.
- Teach employees about exit locations, escape routes and fire protection equipment.
- Check the condition of fire ladders and escapes.
- Conduct regular emergency drills.
If there is a fire, building workers should:
- Call 911.
- Notify co-workers of the fire.
- Never use the elevator. Walk — don’t run — down the stairs.
If workers can't evacuate, they should:
- Seal door gaps with jackets.
- Wait at the window.
- Remain calm.