What Causes Fire in the Workplace?

When fire breaks out, the devastation caused by the smoke and flames can see years of work destroyed in minutes. The aftermath can be time consuming and expensive for your company. The interruption to business combined with replacing assets could run into thousands of pounds, even if you are adequately insured.

So what are the most common causes of fire in the workplace, and can anything be done to prevent it from happening in the first place? Below are some of the more frequent reasons fire can break out at work and what you can do to help prevent them.

Through Faulty electrics and equipment

Overloaded plug sockets and extension leads, loose wires and faulty electrical equipment can all contribute to the risk of electrical fires. They can take hold in any type of business, not just office environments. There will always be an element of risk because even the smallest of businesses relies on technology.

The risk of fire breaking out due to electrical fault is greatly reduced when employers have all electrical equipment PAT tested. There is no legal requirement about how often PAT tests are carried out, but the general rule of thumb is between 2 and 4 years, depending on the type of equipment.

Electrical fires must never be extinguished with water. Your local Fire Safety company will advise you of the correct fire extinguishers to install in your premises.

Through Lack of Fire Prevention Measures

Smoke detectors are the very least you should install in your premises as a business owner. Maintenance and regular testing are essential if they are to stay in good working order.

It is a legal requirement to install fire extinguishers at various points throughout your building, and your insurance will be invalid without them. It is unlikely you will be able to purchase a policy without a prior fire risk assessment having been carried out.

Through Negligence and Human Error

Fire can be caused by a number of factors, and sometimes, unfortunately by either negligence or human error. Carelessly discarded flammable items left close to heat sources, computer and IT equipment having its vents blocked causing it to overheat, unattended food cooking in the staff kitchen – the list goes on.

Fire and Health & Safety courses should be completed by all staff members to make them aware of the hazards and risks, preventable by following strict rules and guidelines. Many courses are available online, saving you time and money.


Sadly, arson is as prevalent as ever. Statistics suggest that up to 50% of domestic and commercial fires are started by arsonists.

Large commercial buildings are often a target for vandals and the like, and there is little that can be done to make your business completely vandal proof. You can make it less vulnerable by installing security measures such as intruder alarms and CCTV, and even sprinkler systems inside to limit any potential damage caused by fire. Security systems are proven to be effective in the fight against crime.