Top Causes of Commercial Fires and How You Can Avoid Them

Commercial Fires


It is a sad fact that most commercial fires are caused by common issues that could have been easily avoided. Why? Most business owners are occupied with the immediate concerns of the business, such as inventory needs or employee management, not with the seemingly less urgent need of preventing fire. We usually just do not consider the real possibility of fire destroying our business.

However, commercial fires are more common than we’d like to imagine and have lasting, damaging effects on the business. In 2016 alone, there were 96,800 fires in non-residential structures accounting for 145 deaths, 1,550 injuries and $2,007,300,000 in losses, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This makes avoiding them a paramount concern. Here are some top causes of commercial fires.

Kitchen Fires

Cooking, whether it is in a commercial kitchen in a restaurant or a small break room with a kitchenette, is one of the most common causes of fire in non-residential buildings. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) indicates that three out of every five fires in restaurants and one out of every four fires in office buildings are caused by cooking equipment.

Pro tip: Ensure the proper use and maintenance of kitchen equipment as well as fire detection and suppression systems.

Human Error

Human error and carelessness cause around 10% of commercial fires. Acts as simple as tossing cigarettes or poor storage habits often result in unintentional fires.

Pro tip: Monitor the workplace for unsafe practices. Employ the use of early fire detection and fire alarm systems to help minimize damage.

Electrical Fires

Contrary to what people believe, most electrical fires are not caused by faulty wiring. They are most typically caused by overloaded systems or by DIY practices that violate the electrical code.

Pro Tip: Call in an electrician to make any needed changes to your electrical system and ensure the proper use of all sockets.

Heating Fires

Nearly another 10% of fires are caused by heaters, fireplaces, and heating appliances such as water heaters. Most of these are due to the systems being in ill-repair, or the storage of flammable products near the systems.

Pro Tip:  Have all systems regularly serviced and inspected. Ensure the proper use of these systems and keep all flammable products away from sources of ignition. Have fire alarms in every area of your building.


Unfortunately, another common cause of commercial fires is arson. Arson fires can be caused by anyone, from vagrants and vandals to disgruntled customers or employees.

Pro tip: Deterrence is key to preventing crime. To deter acts of arson, consider covering the property with video surveillance and intrusion detection systems to aid in the identification of vandals and others seeking to do harm. It is also important to have the right fire alarm and fire detection technologies in place to detect and alert to a fire in its earliest stages.

Be prepared. Protect your business from loss and damage. For more information and professional tips, call Life Safety Engineered Systems today. We’re a nationally recognized leader in fire technologies. 800-263-1116

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