Commercial Building Fires Causes And Prevention – Part 1

Travis Jolliff

We usually don’t think of a fire destroying our business or office building. Typically, we’re worried about more day to day ever present threats such as a downward trending economy, high customer churn rate, the struggle to retain talented employees, legal issues, etc. But the fact is that commercial building fires kill tens of people, injure thousands, and cause millions of dollars in damage.

This 2 part series will address 3 major areas that will help you better understand:

  • When Commercial Fires are Most Common
  • Most Common Causes of Commercial Building Fires
  • How to Prevent a Commercial Building Fire

Part 1 addresses When Commercial Fires are Most Common and the Most Common Causes of Commercial Building Fires. Part 2 will address How to Prevent a Commercial Building Fire.

When Commercial Fires are Most Common

In order to prevent a dangerous and costly fire, let’s take a look at when building fires are most likely to happen. This way, you can know when your business is most at risk, and what steps you can take to mitigate that risk.

The time of day fires are most likely to occur in your building depends on what type of business you’re in – an office building is a bit different from a manufacturing plant. For example, in office buildings, fires are most common during regular work hours. Incidence of fires peaks in the early evening hours between 3 – 6pm.

Outside of the work day between 7pm – 7am, fires are 31% less common. Additionally, there are not many fires on the weekend days when office buildings are not in use.

Most Common Causes of Commercial Building Fires

Cooking Fires

Approximately 30% of commercial building fires are cooking related. In fact, 1 in 4 office building fires are related to cooking equipment. These fires tend to account for less damage, but are easily preventable with fire protection systems such as alarms and fire extinguishers.


The second most common cause of commercial building fires are intentionally started. This accounts for almost 10% of fires, and tends to cause the most damage. Intentional fires also result in more civilian injuries and deaths. Unlike cooking and heating fires, it’s most common for intentional fires to be started between 3pm and midnight.

A few common locations in your building to be aware of include:

  • Bathrooms
  • Trash bins
  • Garages
  • Open areas like a lawn or field

Careless Acts and Human Error

Approximately 10% of commercial building fires are unintentional results of careless acts. This is somewhat of an ‘other’ category. A few examples of careless acts that result in fires:

  • Accidentally leaving space heaters or other heat producing equipment on
  • Carelessly discarded cigarette butts igniting fires
  • Plugging too many things into the same extension cord

Heating Fires

Heating fires also account for approximately 10% of all commercial building fires. Central heating units, fireplaces, water heaters, and other heating appliances and systems should be regularly inspected to prevent fires. It’s important to move any flammable materials and furniture away from heat sources, especially in the winter months when the heat is turned on.

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Jay L Harman is the best and one of the biggest firefighting equipment suppliers and service providers in the region, specializing in fire suppression systems, fire extinguishers, emergency lighting, fire hoses, hydrostatic testing and more. Serving El Paso TX, Las Cruces NM and the surrounding areas, we pride ourselves on buying local and hiring local whenever possible.

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Contact Jay L. Harman Fire Equipment in El Paso TX at 915-533-7021 or Las Cruces NM at 575-523-8880..

Since  1925, we have protected businesses throughout the area from the harms and hazards of fires. Every Jay L Harman technician is licensed and regulated by the Texas Department of Insurance State Fire Marshal’s Office.  Each of these technicians continually receives the most up-to-date factory training and certifications by our manufacturers. Contact Jay L Harman Fire Equipment today. Let our friendly and knowledgeable staff tell you more about our fire suppression systems and help you find the ideal fire suppression system for your needs. Learn more about our full offering of fire extinguisher training, firefighting services, firefighting products, request a quote, ask a question or request additional information.