Unintentional Events: Fires

April 25, 2011  //  

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Unintentional Events: Fires

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    The United States has one of the highest rates of fire deaths in the industrialized world. In 2003, Virginia had 21,846 fires resulting in 69 deaths and 493 injuries.


How can fire affect my business?

Fires can dramatically affect business revenue and the lives of their employees. Eighteen percent of all Virginia fires in 2002 were business fires, causing 32 deaths and 461 injuries and resulting in an estimated loss of more than $413 million.

Although arson, a deliverately set fire, is not an unintentional event, it can be a threat for many businesses because it is the major cause of deaths, injuries and revenue loss for businesses. Read more about arson on the Crimes page of this site.

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What are the types of fire hazards?

Electrical Hazards

Electrical fires claim the lives of more than 450 Americans each year and injure more than 2,300 more. Faulty electrical outlets and old or ill-repaired wiring cause most electrical fires. The misuse of electric cords results in many avoidable electrical fires.

Safety measures include:

  • Replacing broken or frayed extension cords.

  • Avoiding overloading electrical outlets.

  • Routinely checking the wiring of machinery in your business.

  • Purchasing products that meet the Underwriter’s Laboratory standard for safety.

  • Checking electrical tools for signs of wear.

Natural Gas Hazards

Natural gas presents two types of hazards: an asphyxiant robbing the body of oxygen and an explosive easily igniting or ignited. To reduce natural gas hazards: install a natural gas detector in your business, and locate and label the gas shutoff valve so that during an emergency employees will know how to turn off the meter from the outside of the building.

Flammable Liquid Hazards

To reduce fire hazards, read flammable product labels to identify how to store them properly in your business. Limiting, isolating or eliminating flammable liquids will help safeguard your workplace and employees’ lives.

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What can I do to prevent and prepare for fires?

A business can prevent and prepare for fires by ensuring that working smoke alarms are located on all building levels so that employees can hear the alarm should an emergency arise. Also, be sure that all employees know fire escape routes and have communications plans in place. This pre-planning could make a huge difference between life and death.

Read about responding to fires.

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Be ready. Be willing to help.

Virginia Disaster Relief Fund