Most Common Causes for Fire in Commercial Establishments

fire in commercial place

In May 2018, a commercial complex in Nagpur was up in flames, and the incident revealed several fire safety violations in the building. A few days into September, yet another fire broke out in Kamala Mills, Mumbai, this time the cause was sparked from a welding machine that ended up on thermacol which burst into flames. Just a few days ago, a 7-story commercial building in Andheri suffered a massive fire which injured various personnel who were trying to douse the fire. Although this building had not violated any regulations in terms of fire safety, it took a total of 8 firefighting trucks to tackle this fire. So why are we still struggling to tackle the issues of fire, even in commercial buildings and complexes? Getting to the root of the problem is what can save lives in the long run, which is why in this blog, we try to explore all the various reasons for fires in commercial establishments.

Faulty Wiring and Electrics

The issue with electrical fires is twofold – they may be caused either by malfunctions or human error. Electrical malfunctions are more common and can have extremely dangerous repercussions. Improper wiring is the leading cause of these mishaps, and the cause of improper wiring isn’t just at the time of construction. You may have functional wiring at the time of shifting into your new office, but over time, if systems aren’t regularly maintained, the wiring will begin malfunctioning. The Portable Application Testing system works to ensure that electrical equipment is in working condition in commercial spaces. With regard to human error, the biggest culprits are frayed power cords, old extension boxes, and overload.

Cooking in Commercial Spaces

This is by far one of the biggest causes of commercial fires. Around 29.3% of nonresidential fires are cooling related. What’s more is that 1 out of 4 office building fires can be traced back to cooking mishaps. Since commercial kitchens operate with high volumes of electricity and flammable ingredients and equipment, the hazards are multiplied. Cooking equipment such as deep fryers, ranges, ovens, grills, barbecues, and rotisseries all create risks of explosions and electric fires. Cooking equipment attributes to 61% of all restaurant fires, making it one of the leading causes. To put things further into perspective, 4,500 fires a year are caused due to cooking in commercial spaces.

Hydrogen Leaks in Battery Rooms

Fire Broke out in Govt of Maharashtra’s Mantralaya in June 2012.  Three people were killed and 15 injured.  Several important files were charred.  This fire was attributed to short circuit in the UPS Battery Room which triggered Hydrogen gas oozed out of faulty Lead Acid Batteries.  Lead Acid Batteries are known to generate Hydrogen.  Generally leaks are small.  But if the room is not ventilated, H2 will accumulate and poses fire hazards.

Fires Caused by Heating Devices

This category of fire accounts for 9% of all nonresidential building fires. Similar to electric fires in the sense that heating devices may malfunction or be misused by humans, the most frequent occurrence of this type of fire is the improper use of heaters. Huge complexes such as malls and theatres use space heaters to regulate the temperatures. Besides heaters, there are also mechanical devices that are risky when overheated. These are furnaces, boilers and radiators to name a few. Heating devices are responsible for 14% of fires in manufacturing spaces, 11% in office areas, 9% in restaurants and 5% in healthcare.

Smoking Paraphernalia

Smoking kills in more ways than one. Improper disposal of lit cigars or cigarettes is one of the most common causes of fires. Smoking materials remain one of the top five most common causes of commercial fires. They are responsible for 9% of fires in office complexes, 7% of fires in eateries, and 5% of fires in healthcare facilities. Cigarette buds tossed in the trash can easily ignite into flames, which is a very common cause of fires in general.

Mission-Critical Zones

Airports, jet engine test facilities, refineries are all at very high risk and have an array of opportunity to cause a fire. This is because of the open floors and the presence of gallons of flammable liquids which can explode on accidental ignition.

Negligence and Human Error

9.2% of commercial fires were unintentional and are a result of negligence. Human errors such as leaving electric heaters on, disposing cigarette butts nonchalantly, or overloading old extension boards which spark fires are all common causes of fires in commercial spaces.


More common than most think, 36% of fires in educational institutions are started unintentionally, 10% in office spaces and 6% in healthcare facilities!

Understanding the root cause of an issue is the first and only way to tackle it. You have to know with the risks you’re dealing with so that your fire protection systems are planned out in accordance with the threats. While there are many causes for commercial fires, it’s important to remember to address them, and not dust them away. Addressing them does not have to be a plight or an overwhelming task, you can always get in touch with fire protection experts who will provide you with all the solutions that you would need! We hope this blog has helped you introspect on the safety of your own establishment, after all, like they say, prevention is always better than cure!



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