What are the Common Causes of Workplace Fires?

The impact a fire can have on businesses can be disastrous. From lost productivity and financial losses to injuries and fatalities, fire can cause serious damage to businesses of all sizes and some never fully recover from its effects.

If you’re looking to improve the fire safety and prevention measures implemented at your business, this guide is sure to help. Here we’ve collated the most common causes of workplace fires and provided some tips for how you can reduce the risk of fire.

So, what are the most common causes of workplace fires?

Defective Electrical Equipment

Defective electrical equipment can present significant danger to your staff and your business. Imperfect/loose wiring, faulty/old equipment and overloaded sockets are just a few examples that can cause sparks or overheating and thus fire.

All electrical equipment in your workplace should be well maintained and regularly tested to ensure it functions properly and isn’t a safety hazard.

Flammable/Combustible Materials

Any premises that holds flammable materials like paper, wood and cardboard needs to make sure that they are managed appropriately. If these combustible materials are allowed to build up, they can act as fuel and help any small fire outbreak to escalate.

Appropriate storage, disposal and handling processes of these materials is essential. Ideally they would be stored off-site and disposed of on a regular basis.


You should have a dedicated smoking area at least a few metres away from your building for employees to use. Cigarettes can easily set light to nearby flammable materials like leaves, papers and other items found in rubbish bins, so it’s vital that you provide your staff with a safe place to dispose of their smoking materials.

Negligence & Human Error

Negligence and human error are other major causes of fire in the workplace. This includes improper use of machinery, failing to follow health and safety guidelines, spilling flammable liquids and overusing equipment.

The risk of this can be reduced by making sure staff are fully aware of the workplace guidelines to follow. Regular refresher training should also be provided to staff to remind them of fire risks and how to mitigate them.

Faulty Fire Detection Alarms

Although fire detection alarms and systems are not a direct cause of fire, failure to frequently inspect, maintain and service them can lead to large, uncontrollable fires. By making sure your alarms are working as they should be, you can rest assured that they’ll notify you in the early stages of a fire, enabling you to tackle and suppress it before it develops into something more serious.

Cooking Equipment

Another common place for workplace fires to start is in the staff kitchen. Burning food, leaving cooking equipment unsupervised and the use of combustible materials all present risks, so it’s important the correct procedures are implemented and followed.

Untidy & Dirty Workplace

Workplaces that are untidy and clustered are much more susceptible to fires. Overloaded rubbish bins and poorly ventilated areas, for example, can assist fires to grow. Similarly, forgetting to clean equipment and letting dust build up can cause machinery to overheat. It’s also important that you don’t block or cover machinery as this too can cause overheating.


Last on our list of common causes of workplace fires is arson. Industrial and commercial businesses in particular can be targeted by vandals if the building is often left unattended for long periods of time. Installing CCTV cameras and motion sensor lights around the property can act as a deterrent to any lurking criminals.

How to Reduce the Risk of Fire in the Workplace

Here are some of our top tips for how you can reduce the risk of fire in the workplace –

  • Avoid overloading power sockets and regularly check electrical equipment to ensure it is in good condition.
  • Keep all combustible and flammable materials off-site and dispose of them regularly.
  • Provide staff with a dedicated smoking area and somewhere to safely dispose of smoking materials.
  • Provide staff with fire safety and prevention training.
  • Regularly test all fire alarms.
  • Keep a clean and tidy workplace, ensuring rubbish bins aren’t overloaded.
  • Install CCTV cameras and motion sensor lights around the perimeter of your building.

In addition to the above tips, passive fire protection (PFP) is something else that buildings need to consider implementing into their premises. Built into the structure of a building, PFP aims to limit the spread of fire and smoke by containing it in a single compartment. This is achieved through services like cavity barriers, penetration sealing and fire compounding, and is instrumental in reducing the physical and financial damage caused by fire to a building.

See more: What is Passive Fire Protection?

Get Started with CPFP

Here at CPFP, we specialise in providing the highest levels of passive fire protection to buildings across the UK. We are IFCC accredited and are committed to ensuring all types of buildings’ fire measures are in safe hands.

To find out more about passive fire protection and how we can help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today.

See more: Why is Passive Fire Protection Important?

See more: Passive Fire Protection Products & Materials

Speak to Us Today.

Address: The Old Angel, Flax Bourton, Bristol, BS48 3QQ
Phone: 0117 450 9943
Email: info@cpfp.co.uk