Empty buildings pose a potential fire hazard

Issue 2 2021 Fire & Safety

COVID-19 has highlighted another potential problem for corporates and small business owners – the threat of fire in empty buildings.

Andrew Worthington, Fidelity Fire Solutions general manager, says continuous maintenance and upkeep in buildings is a big factor in preventing fires, and with so many corporates having opted to work from home this past year, there is a much higher chance of maintenance and upkeep being neglected and a fire going undetected or starting unexpectedly.

Worthington says that due to the lockdown, many organisations have left their office buildings unattended for extended periods of time and in some offices, desks and equipment may have been left as they were when the office was occupied. “This poses a fire risk as rodents are more likely to infest a neglected building and in so doing may chew through the insulation of the building’s wiring, which in turn causes electrical shorts and potentially fires. This risk is even greater in completely deserted buildings, since there will be no one to spot the pest problem until it is too late and this is all the more reason to take fire safety seriously in these locations so that if the worst does happen, the issue can be detected and dealt with before it spreads.”

He says the same can happen with office equipment and appliances which were left on. With lack of maintenance and cleaning, the wiring can overheat, causing fires. “This, in combination with paperwork or storage rooms left closed, can pose a big risk,” he says.

Fidelity Fire Solutions advises commercial property owners to:

- Ensure that proper care is taken to switch off the power, or equipment not in use.

- Have someone regularly check offices for possible risks.

- Follow normal EHS housekeeping practices with regular maintenance for equipment and fire systems.

- Check empty buildings at least once a month, and ensure you keep a proper record of all maintenance. Ensure you keep to a regular schedule.

- Consider installing an effective fire alarm/smoke alarm system which is linked to your security system. Detection is key when it comes to fire safety, since the faster a potential fire is spotted, the quicker it can be dealt with.

Worthington says fire is also not the only risk to be mindful of. “Risks of water leakages, pest infestations, mould build-up as well as structural decay also pose serious problems that can build up over extended periods of abandonment. There is also a possibility that buildings can become occupied by squatters, or used for criminal activity if there isn’t a regular inspection of the building or office park. So the best advice is regular maintenance, backed by the right preventive smoke and fire detection,” he concludes.

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Fidelity SecureFire steps into critical fire response space
News Fire & Safety
With the majority of fire stations around the country being crippled by a lack of resources to offer effective responses, Fidelity Fire Solutions has launched its own ‘first responder’ model, Fidelity SecureFire.

Long-distance connectivity with Simplex ES Net Life Safety
Johnson Controls Global Products Fire & Safety Products
ES Net Network Bridge allows fire alarm system data to be transmitted across distant buildings via a customer’s existing network infrastructure, improving system-wide monitoring and control in facilities and campuses where life safety networks are often widely dispersed.

Elvey Group and Technoswitch part ways
Elvey Security Technologies Fire & Safety News
The Elvey Group (a division of the Hudaco Group of Companies) is relinquishing its distributorship of the Technoswitch brand, following Hudaco’s acquisition of Brigit Fire.

From one month to 10 minutes
Dahua Technology South Africa Fire & Safety
Dahua has integrated technology with the inspection mode of the photovoltaic power station in order to create a robust system that can monitor the fire situation in the power plant and its surrounding areas 24/7.

Protecting poultry processing plant
Technoswitch Fire Detection & Suppression Fire & Safety
Grain Field Chickens, based in Reitz in the Orange Free State Province, features all the typical fire detection challenges one would expect to encounter in a food processing facility.

Fire prevention for energy systems
Technoswitch Fire Detection & Suppression Fire & Safety
With the significant push towards renewable energy, such as wind and solar, the demand for battery energy storage systems has grown exponentially, as has the need for fire safety solutions for these environments.

Fire risks in solar panel installations
Technoswitch Fire Detection & Suppression Fire & Safety
Installed global solar capacity doubled in three years from 2018, and the expectation is that in the next three years, it will more than double. In South Africa, the year-on-year growth from 2021 to 2022 was 24,90%.

Smart firefighting
Fire & Safety IT infrastructure
By integrating smart radios, innovative wireless technologies, fusion field networks, and IoT sensors, firefighters can respond faster and coordinate better during emergencies, protecting lives, property, and their own safety.

Compliant with the National Building Regulations?
Fire & Safety
Over the past few years, there has been a surge in building fires, increasing the risk for loss of life and damage to structures and property.

Make sure your alternative power solutions are not a fire hazard
Fire & Safety
While alternative heating and energy devices fulfil a crucial role in the current energy crisis, Fidelity Fire Solutions reminds users that such devices can pose a risk if not installed, stored and used properly.