Top 5 Causes of Industrial and Manufacturing Fires

Top 5 Causes of Industrial and Manufacturing Fires

Causes of Industrial and Manufacturing FiresIndustrial and Manufacturing Property Fire Facts

Fires occurring in industrial and manufacturing properties cause an estimated $1.2 billion of damages, 279 injuries and 18 civilian deaths every year. According to a report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are more than 37,000 industrial and manufacturing fires occurring every year.

Types of Industrial and Manufacturing Fires

Industrial and manufacturing properties include various property uses such as agriculture, manufacturing, laboratories, energy production, utilities, woodlands, forests, quarries, and mines.  Fires occurring on these types of properties either occur to the structure itself, outside or considered unclassified, or occur in vehicles.  Out of the more than 37,000 fires that occur each year, 71% occur outside or are considered unclassified, while 20% occur in structures and the remaining 9% are vehicle fires.

These types of fires often cause large-scale losses and even though structural fires account for only 20% of industrial and manufacturing fires, they are the cause of the greatest losses. Structural fires are the cause of nearly half of all civilian deaths, 80% of civilian injuries and account for the greatest losses in property damage.

Top 5 Causes of Industrial and Manufacturing Fires 

According to the NFPA, the leading cause of structural fires in industrial properties was due to electrical distribution and lighting equipment. The top five causes of industrial and manufacturing fires includes the following:

  1. Electrical hazards
  2. Machinery and equipment
  3. Hot Work
  4. Combustible dust
  5. Flammable liquids and gases
  1. Electrical Hazards

Faulty electrical equipment such as faulty connections, overloaded outlets and circuits, and loose wiring or wiring not up to code top the list as the single biggest cause of workplace fires. This is a common cause of structural fires due to the fact that every building has electricity and this can happen anywhere, in warehouses, retail stores, and business offices.

You can help to prevent electrical fires with awareness and prevention methods such as maintenance and training. Best practices to implement immediately include:

  • Unplug temporary equipment when not in use
  • Do not use extension cords and never consider them a permanent solution
  • Do not overload electrical circuits or equipment
  • Maintain good housekeeping practices and do not allow hazardous materials or combustible dust near machinery and equipment
  • Use antistatic equipment when required by OSHA or NFPA

In addition to these general best practices, maintaining your fire and life safety system is key to prevent catastrophic consequences and loss of life.

  1. Machinery and Equipment

Machinery and equipment are a leading cause of industrial fires and include fires started by lighting and electrical equipment, heating equipment, cooking equipment, shop tools and other industrial equipment.  Furnaces that are not properly installed and any type of electrical equipment from pencil sharpeners to industrial presses weighing several tons can be a fire hazard. Anything with friction and moving parts, or equipment that uses hot oils like hydraulic fluids, or any machine that can create a spark or malfunction can potentially be a fire hazard.

You can help to prevent fires caused from machinery and equipment by maintaining awareness, good housekeeping practices and routine maintenance.

  1. Hot Work

Hot work is one of the leading causes of industrial fires in all industries and includes welding and torch cutting, but also includes soldering, heating, burning, or brazing.  All of these activities pose a fire hazard, especially when used in the vicinity of combustible dust, hot oils, or flammable materials. Sparks can travel more than 35 feet and great caution must be used during hot work processes.

  1. Combustible Dust 

Combustible dust is a major cause of fires in many industries such as metalworking, woodworking, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, food manufacturing and many others. Materials such as metals, chemicals, food, and dyes and even materials that may not be combustible in their original larger form can be highly combustible in dust form.  Just about any material can generate combustible dust, making it important for every business to practice good housekeeping and keep areas clean and clear from dust. This is especially important around electrical machinery and hot work tools.

  1. Flammable Liquids and Gases 

There is always a risk when working with flammable liquids and gases. You can mitigate risks by following all safety precautions and wearing protective equipment. Always be aware of the types of liquids on your property and know where to find Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Control all ignition sources and keep them far away from flammable liquids which should be stored according to OSHA compliant procedures.

By knowing the top causes of industrial and manufacturing fires and following all safety precautions to prevent them you can help to reduce devastating loss of life and property damages. 

Fire and Life Safety Systems for Industrial and Manufacturing Properties 

Making sure your fire and life safety systems are in proper working order and code compliant is critical to protecting your property and the lives of employees, tenants, or occupants. High Rise Security Systems is a leading fire and life safety systems provider in the Chicagoland area, offering decades of experience in protecting industrial and manufacturing properties. 

HRSS offers commercial fire alarm system design, UL listed equipment, fire alarm inspections, testing, maintenance, repairs, and monitoring 24/7/365.  We help property owners to make the best decisions for fire and life safety with consultations from experienced fire safety specialists. Contact us to learn more about protecting your commercial property with a fire safety consultation, risk assessment and recommendations for your business.

Share It!