A fire at your workplace could devastate your small business’s ability to recover and survive.

Not only can a fire destroy your building, contents, and inventory, but in the worst of all possibilities, a fire can injure or kill one of your employees or customers.

It’s estimated that approximately 20% of all property fires in Canada are electrical fires. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 33 workers died in Ontario between 2008 and 2017 from electrocution or electrical burns.

Don’t assume your business has no electrical fire risk because everything appears to operate correctly daily. Electrical systems always present a risk of fire.

A burning electrical socket.

Electrical hazards and fires are significant threats to your business, including:

  • Property damage. Extinguishing an electrical fire (or any fire) can lead to more harm to your property and contents from smoke and water damage. Electrical fires can destroy the building’s electrical panel and expensive equipment and machinery.
  • Business interruption. An electrical fire can cause serious damage to your commercial property, forcing you to close for an extended period. That will lead to lost revenue and threaten your business’s survival.

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  • Reputational damage. Whether customers or job applicants, a fire at your business property can detrimentally impact your business’s reputation.
  • Higher insurance costs. Your company’s insurance claims history is one of many factors insurance providers consider when deciding to offer you a policy and at what premium. Fire-related claims can make getting insured at a reasonable cost difficult.
  • Fines for non-compliance. Every province has standards for managing arc flashing and electrical fire risks that companies of all sizes must follow. If it’s determined afterwards that your company was not complying with those standards, you could be subject to expensive fines.

What Causes Electrical Fires?

Electrical fires often start because of malfunctions in electrical equipment or systems. For example, they can start with wiring, circuit breakers, or electrical panels that are either overloaded, overheated, or outdated.

Among the most common causes of workplace fires are:

  • Faulty electrical equipment and circuits. Old or defective electrical equipment and circuitry in your building can cause sparks and electrical surges, leading to a fire.
  • Poor wiring. Faulty or outdated wiring is a common cause of electrical fires. If your property’s wiring capacity can’t handle the demand of all the appliances and electronics running in your building, the electrical system can overland and ignite a fire. 
  • Defective electrical cords and overloaded outlets. Power bars and cords that are fraying, have broken connectors, or cracked insulation are at risk of overloading and sparking a fire.
  • Combustible waste or materials near electrical equipment. Sparks can easily ignite combustible items like cardboard, paper, or paint. Don’t store these flammable materials or waste in or near electrical, mechanical, or boiler rooms.

Tips for Preventing Electrical Fires at Your Business

Here are a few tips to help minimize the risk of electrical fires igniting at your place of business:

  • Regularly inspect electrical cords and outlets. Replace cracked or frayed electrical cords and outdated outlets or ones with signs of wear. 
  • Have Class C fire extinguishers available. Class C fire extinguishers are designed for dealing with energized electrical equipment fires, such as appliances, motors, and power tools. Many fire extinguishers are multipurpose. Be sure to check the classifications of fire extinguishers in your workplace.
  • Have your building’s electrical systems inspected by an electrician. It’s advisable to hire a certified electrician to inspect your building’s wiring and outlets at least every 24 months.
  • Don’t overload circuits. Avoid overloading outlets by plugging multiple extension cords, power bars, or devices into one outlet.
  • Ensure all fire and smoke alarms are working. Routinely test your building’s fire and smoke detectors. Consider installing a monitored 24/7 fire alarm and sprinkler system.
  • Avoid using electric space heating devices. Appliances are a leading cause of electrical fires, and space heaters can pose a threat if misused. Limit or avoid using them in your workplace.

If a fire erupts at your workplace, pull the fire alarm, evacuate the premises, and call 9-1-1 or your local fire department. Never attempt to fight a fire if you don’t know what material is burning, what type of extinguisher to use, or if you’re unconfident about handling the situation.

What Insurance Helps a Business Recover From Fire Damage?

Fire and smoke damage to an office or workplace can cause significant damage that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair. The good news is you can protect your business’s finances by purchasing commercial property insurance. Although commercial property insurance is not legally required, without it, you’re on your own to pay to repair damages to your workspace caused by fire and other risks, including floods, natural disasters, theft, and vandalism.

Commercial property insurance provides financial support to repair or replace your business property, contents and electronics, and merchandise and inventory up to your policy’s limit minus a deductible. It typically includes business interruption insurance to cover your overhead costs if you’re forced to close your building while repairs are being conducted following an insurable loss, such as a fire.

Get the protection you need for your business property. It takes a few minutes to complete an online application to get a free quote from Zensurance for your company’s insurance needs. 

Let us get the policy you need at an affordable price while you concentrate on growing your business.

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About the Author: Alexandria Anthony

Alexandria Anthony is the Team Lead, Property & Hospitality, at Zensurance.