The Four Different Types of Commercial Fires

Storm Damage & CAT Restoration
Author: Bridgette Smith

Commercial fires are more common than you may think. It's better to be prepared by knowing the common causes of most of these fires; by knowing what may cause a commercial fire, your business can take the proper precautions to prevent damage to your property. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the five most common causes of fires in commercial buildings are cooking equipment, heating equipment, electrical and lighting equipment, smoking materials, and intentional fire setting. There are four kinds of commercial fires, typically called "types" rather than "classes." These types are based on the nature of the materials or substances involved in the fire. Each of these fires requires specific procedures and methods to restore the property and get your business open again fully. They are commonly known as:

Fuel-based Fires

This type of commercial fire involves ordinary combustible materials, such as wood, paper, cloth, rubber, and plastics. These fires are typically categorized as Type A fires.

Fuel Source: The fire is sustained by burning ordinary combustible materials. Ignition Source: The fire can be ignited by an open flame, sparks, heat sources, or electrical malfunctions. Spread: The fire can spread quickly if there is a continuous fuel supply and sufficient oxygen. Extinguishing Methods: Fuel-based fires can be extinguished using water, foam, dry chemical agents, or other appropriate fire extinguishing methods based on the specific situation.

Prevention & Safety Measures:

Proper Storage: Store combustible materials in designated areas away from ignition sources. Good Housekeeping: Maintain a clean and clutter-free workspace to minimize the presence of fuel sources. Fire Safety Education: Train employees on fire safety practices, including adequately handling and storing combustible materials. Fire Extinguishers: Ensure the availability of appropriate fire extinguishers and train employees on their proper use. Fire Detection & Suppression Systems: Install and regularly maintain fire detection and suppression systems, such as smoke detectors and sprinkler systems, to quickly detect and control fires.

It's crucial to prioritize fire safety and take precautions to prevent fuel-based fires in commercial settings. Regular inspections, maintenance of fire safety equipment, and employee training can significantly reduce the risk of such fires and ensure the safety of individuals and property.

Flammable Liquid Fires

This type of commercial fire involves flammable liquids, such as gasoline, oil, solvents, and certain chemicals. These fires are typically categorized as Type B fires.

Fuel Source: Flammable liquids fuel these fires, and they can ignite and burn rapidly. Ignition Source: Flammable liquid fires can be sparked by open flames, electrical sparks, hot surfaces, or other heat sources. Intensity and Spread: These fires can quickly spread if not adequately contained due to the high volatility and flammability of the liquids. Extinguishing Methods: Flammable liquid fires are typically extinguished using foam, dry chemical agents, carbon dioxide (CO2), or specialized fire extinguishing agents designed for flammable liquid fires.

Prevention and Safety Measures:

Proper Storage and Handling: Flammable liquids should be stored in approved containers and kept in designated areas away from potential ignition sources. Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation in areas where flammable liquids are used or stored to prevent the buildup of flammable vapors. Fire Safety Equipment: Install and maintain fire extinguishers suitable for flammable liquid fires inaccessible locations. Additionally, consider installing automatic fire suppression systems in high-risk areas. Safety Procedures: Implement safety protocols for correctly handling, dispensing, and using flammable liquids. This includes using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and following proper storage and disposal guidelines.

Understanding the hazards associated with flammable liquid fires and taking appropriate precautions to prevent their occurrence is crucial. Proper training, adherence to safety protocols, and regular maintenance of fire safety equipment are essential to minimize the risk of flammable liquid fires and protect lives and property.

Electrical Fires

Electrical equipment or electrical faults, such as overloaded circuits, faulty wiring, or malfunctioning appliances, cause this type of commercial fire. These fires are typically categorized as Type C fires.

Ignition Source: Electrical fires are caused by an electrical spark or arc that ignites nearby flammable materials, such as insulation, paper, or dust. Fuel Source: The fuel for electrical fires is the surrounding combustible materials, including wiring, electrical appliances, electronic devices, or nearby flammable substances. Heat Generation: Electrical fires generate intense heat due to the high energy involved, which can rapidly spread the fire to adjacent materials. Extinguishing Methods: To extinguish electrical fires, it is crucial to de-energize the electrical source before applying appropriate extinguishing agents. Traditional water-based methods may not be suitable for electrical fires as water conducts electricity and can lead to electrocution.

Prevention and Safety Measures:

Electrical System Maintenance: Inspect and maintain electrical systems, including wiring, outlets, switches, and appliances, to identify and address potential hazards or malfunctions. Electrical Load Management: Avoid overloading electrical circuits by distributing the load evenly and using surge protectors where necessary. Proper Wiring and Installation: Ensure appropriate installation of electrical components by qualified professionals, following building codes and safety standards. Fire Safety Equipment: Install and maintain fire extinguishers suitable for electrical fires, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguishers. Additionally, consider installing automatic fire suppression systems designed for electrical fires in critical areas. Emergency Response Planning: Develop and practice an emergency response plan that includes procedures for handling electrical fires, evacuating the premises, and contacting emergency services.

It is essential to prioritize electrical safety to minimize the risk of electrical fires. Regular inspections, proper maintenance, and adherence to electrical safety codes and guidelines can significantly reduce the chances of electrical malfunctions and subsequent fires. Additionally, promoting electrical safety awareness among occupants and providing training on responding to electrical emergencies can help prevent injuries and property damage.

Cooking Fires

This commercial fire occurs in kitchens and cooking areas, particularly restaurants and food service establishments. It involves cooking oils, fats, and grease. These fires are typically categorized as Type K fires.

Ignition Source: Cooking fires are typically caused by overheating or igniting cooking oils, fats, or greases due to high temperatures, unattended cooking equipment, or mishaps. Fuel Source: The primary fuel for cooking fires is the flammable cooking oils, fats, and greases used in the cooking process. These substances can ignite and spread rapidly, leading to larger fires. Heat Generation: Cooking fires generate intense heat, quickly spreading to nearby combustible materials, such as kitchen appliances, utensils, and nearby structures. Extinguishing Methods: Specialized fire suppression systems designed for Class K fires, such as wet chemical fire suppression systems, often extinguish cooking fires effectively. These systems work by smothering the fire and cooling the fuel source.

Prevention and Safety Measures:

Proper Cooking Equipment Usage: Ensure cooking equipment is used correctly and operated within recommended temperature ranges. Avoid leaving cooking equipment unattended. Regular Equipment Maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance and inspections of cooking equipment to identify malfunctions or issues that could lead to fires. Fire Suppression Systems: Install and maintain appropriate fire suppression systems, such as automatic sprinklers and wet chemical systems, in commercial kitchens to respond quickly to cooking fires. Fire Safety Training: Train kitchen staff on fire safety measures, including safe cooking practices, proper use of fire suppression equipment, and emergency response protocols. Proper Storage and Disposal of Cooking Oils: Store and handle cooking oils, fats, and greases in designated containers and dispose of them properly according to local regulations. Clear Cooking Area: Keep the cooking area clean and free from clutter, including flammable materials, to minimize the risk of fire spread.

By implementing preventive measures, promoting fire safety awareness, and providing proper training to staff, the risk of cooking fires in commercial settings can be significantly reduced. It is crucial to have appropriate fire suppression systems in place and to follow best practices for safe cooking to protect lives, property, and the continuity of business operations. If you experience fire damage, our fire restoration company offers a variety of services to help you recover. We use advanced cleaning methods and products to remove soot and smoke from walls, furnishings, and other surfaces. We also offer structural repairs and reconstruction services to ensure your property is restored to its pre-loss condition.

Protecting your business from commercial fire damage is essential to ensure the safety of individuals and the continuity of operations. By understanding the common causes and types of fires, implementing preventive measures, and investing in fire detection and suppression systems, you can significantly reduce the risk of fire incidents. Proper storage, good housekeeping, fire safety education, and regular maintenance are crucial in preventing fuel-based, flammable liquid, electrical, and cooking fires. If fire damage occurs, our restoration services specialize in addressing the aftermath of fires, including the removal of soot and smoke from various surfaces and ensuring your property is restored to its pre-loss condition. Trust ServiceMaster Recovery Management to handle the intricacies of fire restoration and help you recover effectively. Call us at 844-993-0527.

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