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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What Are Some Common Commercial Fire Damage Hazards in Retail Stores?

6/9/2022 (Permalink)

Blog Summary: SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian advises employers and employees to be aware of common fire risks in retail stores.

SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian understands the unique complexities associated with commercial water damage restoration. The size of the damaged structure, the potential risk hazards of volatile substances and water-reactive chemicals, and the need to resume normal business operations as quickly as possible require that the property damage restoration company have trained and experienced technicians, powerful equipment, cutting edge technologies, and the most advanced cleaning techniques to move the project along at a rapid pace.

Both small store-front retailers and national multi-site big-box retail stores are vulnerable to fire safety hazards. During daily business operations, the exercise of caution with obvious fire risks is easy. The unexpected fire hazards, however, present real danger. Many of these “hidden” fire hazards are in plain sight, especially in stores that offer a wide sales selection.

Risk Management of Potential Retail Fire Hazards

Potential fire hazards abound in a retail setting. Identification of the risks and the exercise of adequate risk management are crucial for the safety of employees, customers, inventory, and the structure. Two of the most common fire hazards are electrical issues and excessive dust.

Fire Hazard: Electrical Issues

Electrical fires are a leading cause of fire damage in a retail setting. Electrical hazards include damaged plugs, defective outlets, overloaded circuits, and loose wiring. A marked increase in the use of electronic devices, computers, appliances, and extension cords can overload an outlet, and the resulting heat can ignite nearby combustible materials.

Risk Management: Electrical Hazards

  1. Schedule and track a daily inspection of plugs, sockets, outlets, and extension cords. The MOD (“manager on duty”) can facilitate the activity. The business’ task management platform can be a useful tool to schedule, track, and archive any issues with images and video.
  2. Keep dust and debris to a minimum on the sales floor, in the back room, and in the warehouse.
  3. Inspect the electronics and appliance departments for overloaded circuits, faulty wiring, and damaged extension cords. Constant activity and heavy foot traffic make a retail floor space a dynamic area. Situations change from moment to moment. A piece of heavy equipment can damage an extension cord or outlet without the damage being noticed until a smoke alarm alerts the sales force and customers to a fire.
  4. Pay special attention to the use of extension cords. Extension cords are only a temporary solution. Install new receptacles to meet permanent needs. Never plug one or more power strips into a power strip. Daisy-chained power strips are extreme hazards and are prohibited.
  5. Resolve lighting issues such as burned-out bulbs and malfunctioning light fixtures. Switch to LED bulbs to reduce the likelihood of fire and to save energy.
  6. Have an electrical engineer periodically inspect the entire electrical system, from the panel box to the receptacle and what is plugged into it. Resolve any issues immediately.
  7. Unplug non-essential equipment and machinery when not in use or at the end of the day unless otherwise necessary.
  8. Keep the break room safe by implementing a fire safety plan for any cooking appliances in the kitchen area. Make sure appliances are turned off at the end of the day. Keep food wrappers, pizza boxes, paper napkins, and other flammables away from stove burners, hot plates, toasters, waffle irons, and other heat sources.

So much attention needs to be allotted to electrical fire hazards because the leading causes of fire in retail stores were caused by cooking, electric malfunctions, and heating.

Fire Hazard: Dust in Retail Stores

Dust is plentiful in the retail environment and is also a serious fire threat. Sources of dust include the HVAC system, corrugated boxes, merchandise, foot traffic, and nearby grading and construction generate dust that can ignite with only a spark and spread rapidly through a facility. Many retail outlets feature exposed ceilings, and exposed rafters and steel girders are dust magnets. If the dust ignites, the fire can travel along the steel girders at breakneck speeds, consuming the building in minutes.

Risk Management: Dust Hazards

To minimize the risk of a dust fire, keep the facility as dust-free as possible.

  1. Implement a daily departmental dusting policy.
  2. Clean exposed girders, ducting, conduit, and ceiling fans on a monthly or quarterly basis. A team of well-trained and thoroughly equipped employees might be able to handle this task. Consult with corporate management or the insurance company before having employees assume out-of-coverage risks that could expose the business to millions of dollars in accident claims payouts.
  3. Install heavy-duty extraction fans in areas where dust is excessive. These high-dust areas might need monthly cleaning.

Other Fire Hazards in the Retail Setting That Should Not Be Overlooked

Other fire hazards in a retail business setting that need attention and close management include:

  • Gas lines that are loose, damaged and leaking
  • Flammable materials, liquids, and chemicals
  • Trash and cigarettes in or near the workplace
  • Human error or negligence
  • Inadequate fire safety training
  • Arson

With all these hazards in the retail environment, a business should pre-qualify a property damage restoration company so that when a fire, smoke, or water damage disaster strikes, one call yields fast results. SERVPRO of Waxahachie / Midlothian is available to provide emergency services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including holidays. Rapid action reduces downtime and lost revenue.

Contact SERVPRO of Waxahachie/Midlothian for more details about commercial fire damage restoration and commercial water damage cleanup. The team can be reached by calling (972) 935-0827 or emailing acarey@SERVPRO10932.com

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