Blog, news & updates

5 of the most obvious but overlooked fire hazards

The fire triangle and what creates a fire: oxygen, heat and fuel.

Five obvious but overlooked fire hazards in the workplace

Fire is PREVENTABLE, and by understanding fire, you can begin to reduce the risks of a fire starting by reducing any sources of ignition within the workplace.

To create a fire, you need FUEL, OXYGEN and HEAT – this is known as the fire triangle.

The Fire Triangle - What is a source of ignition?

Once they are combined, these elements simply need something as small as a match or a spark to start a fire. Most people are pretty ‘fire savvy’ and know what to look out for or avoid potential fire hazards in the workplace but when we wrote our Fire Awareness Training we found that there are still situations where people are putting the elements of the fire triangle together without realising it.

Fire hazard examples in the workplace

Here are five of the most obvious BUT overlooked fire hazards:

  1. Propping open fire doors
    FIRE DOORS delay the transfer of heat, smoke and fire for at least 30 minutes, so keep them closed. Fire doors are usually required to isolate key areas where fires are more likely to occur, such as kitchens. Keeping them open increases the chances of fires spreading and puts more lives in danger.
  2. Overloading potential ignition sources
    Potential ignition sources are objects that produce heat, such as toasters, heaters or electrical supplies and equipment. Damaged cables, overloading power sockets, and chargers are also potential ignition sources. The best time to fight a fire is before it starts, so be cautious around potential ignition sources. If you take a look around the room right now, chances are you’ll see a few!
  3. Disposing of cigarettes near the rubbish bins or not emptying cigarette bins
    Many fire-related deaths that happen in non-residential buildings are caused by smoking. So things like ONLY smoking in designated areas, and disposing of cigarettes and other smoking materials CORRECTLY is a MUST. It will greatly reduce the risk of a fire starting.
  4. Watering plants on top of or near computers
    Most office plants are looked after by external agencies, who should be aware of the risks involved with watering plants, but if you feel the call of the green thumbs make sure you are not putting yourself at risk. Only water your plant with a fine water spray aimed away from any potential ignition source (computer's, power sockets, radios etc.)
  5. Not annually servicing or using the incorrect type of fire extinguisher
    Fire extinguishers are not designed to last forever. they require annual servicing and refilling (even if they haven't been used).  More importantly, if you use the wrong type of fire extinguisher on a fire you can exacerbate rather than douse the fire.

How to identify potential risks and fire hazards in the workplace. 

It is important and vital that your appointed responsible persons take a fire risk assessment to identify fire hazards.  Not doing so could lead to legal trouble around negligence. Your appointed persons will identify fire risks whether it’s to do with flammable materials, dust-build up in plug sockets or if hot work is being carried out then it will have to be made specifically for the use case looking into fire hazards and control measures.

What are the six different classes of fire?

And even then, a lot of people don't know how to bet put out a fire should it occur. There are six different classes of fire which all have vary levels of potential fire hazards in the workplace:

Class A - materials like wood, paper and fabric

Class B - flammable liquids such as petrol, oil or paint

Class C - gases that are flammable like methane or butane

Class D - metals that are combustible (combustible materials)

Class F - cooking oils e.g. a chip pan fire

Electrical - fires from faulty electrical equipment and other electronic sources, but once the source is taken away it turns into another class.

To find out more about how to best handle these different classes of fire, see our 'What are the different types of Fire Extinguishers?' blog.  

Our Fire Safety Training

If you’ve looked around your workplace and seen a few too many fire hazards it might be time for you and your team to refresh their fire awareness training.

With our range of Fire Safety Training Courses for various industries and Fire Warden Training, we provide key information to keep yourself and employees safe in the event of a fire. We cover things such as the nature of fire, fire signage, fire hazards, fire safety regulations, extinguishers and the emergency procedures to mitigate any risks associated with human error.

Fire Safety Courses