U.S. Fire Administration — Working for a Fire-Safe America

Workplace Fire Safety

Prevent workplace fires! Share these safety tips to keep workers safe and businesses open.

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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.

Uncertainty caused by natural disasters or other events like COVID‑19 can also make the economic effect of a fire on a business much worse.

Some businesses may have a hard time recovering financially from a fire after being shut down for several weeks or months due to disasters or other events.

United States

There were 18,700 office and store fires in the United States in 2019 that caused $744 million in direct property damage.

Cooking is the leading cause of office and store fires.

Leading causes of office and store fires (2019)

Cooking
32.3%
Electrical malfunction
10.9%
Heating
8.0%
Other unintentional, careless
7.9%
Appliances
7.7%

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.

Many causes of office and store fires are the same as those for home fires. Prevention and escape planning recommendations are similar.

Employees should:

  • 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.

  • Make sure smoke alarms and fire sprinklers are properly installed and working.
  • 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.

For more information on fire safety in a variety of workplaces, visit www.osha.gov.