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5 Things You Need to Know to Stay Safe This Winter

Posted on: January 12, 2021

Professional male chef working alone in commercial kitchen.

During the winter months, residential and commercial buildings alike experience increased fire risk. Cooking equipment, electrical wiring, heating systems, and candles all pose risks to the safety of your building and the people inside it. If you’re a business owner or building manager in the Portland or Seattle area, follow these five safety tips to prevent winter fires on your property.

Stop Kitchen Fires Before They Start

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fires involving cooking equipment account for 29 percent of all office building fires, making them the number-one fire hazard in commercial properties.

To prevent your building from adding to this statistic, follow these kitchen fire safety tips:

  • Clean up grease thoroughly and often.
  • Maintain your cooking appliances and kitchen fire protection equipment.
  • Install Class K fire extinguishers and train your staff on how to use them.
  • Retain an uncluttered kitchen to prevent trash and debris from piling up.
  • Keep flammable materials away from hot cooking surfaces.

Follow Electrical Fire Safety Tips

Electrical distribution and lighting equipment is the second leading cause of office fires, with an incidence rate of 12 percent. Follow these tips to prevent electrical hazards from sparking a fire:

  • Identify and address electrical hazards, such as frequently tripped breakers, hot outlet receptacles, and flickering lights.
  • Unplug tools and appliances before cleaning, adjusting, or repairing them.
  • Only use electronics approved by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Check cords for cracking, fraying, or other damage before plugging them in.
  • Don’t use extension cords on a permanent basis.

Have Your Furnace, Chimneys & Exhaust Vents Checked

Heating equipment is a leading fire hazard in commercial properties, causing 11 percent of all office building fires. To help catch and correct problems with your furnace, chimneys, and exhaust vents, have them professionally inspected and cleaned once a year. Fall or winter is the ideal time to schedule preventative heating system maintenance.

Beware of Candles

Although they create a relaxing ambiance, candles are not recommended in commercial buildings. Leaving lit candles unattended with children or placing them too close to the edge of a table or countertop can spell disaster. If you want flickering candlelight to set the mood in your restaurant, hotel, or church, use battery-operated LED candles instead of the real thing.

Test Your Fire Protection Equipment

You want peace of mind that your fire protection equipment will jump into action if a blaze breaks out in your building. Here are the systems that require routine testing:

  • Fire sprinklers: As the first line of defense against a rogue blaze, fire sprinklers are critical, life-saving systems in any commercial building. Testing ensures everything will work as intended in the event of a fire.
  • Fire extinguishers: There’s nothing more effective than a functional fire extinguisher in the hands of an employee who knows how to use it. Routine testing and inspections prevent tampering, defects, or other flaws from getting in the way of extinguishing the flames.
  • Fire alarms: While they don’t actively put out fires, fire alarms are essential for helping building occupants evacuate safely. By keeping your system in top working order, you improve your building’s safety and ensure code compliance.
  • Kitchen hood suppression systems: If your property has a commercial kitchen, the hood suppression system acts like an onsite firefighter. Monthly, semi-annual, or annual testing ensures fire safety and code compliance, according to the type of equipment you have and the quantity of food you prepare.

For more help improving the fire safety of your building this winter, please contact Performance Systems Integration online or give our team a call at (503) 641-2222 today! We offer a full range of fire safety services in Portland and Seattle.

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