Common Causes of Commercial Building Fires

Commercial building fires can result in severe damage to structures, inventory, and equipment in a matter of minutes. These fires are devastating and can destroy years of work and entire livelihoods, so it is important to be prepared and stop them before they ever occur. So, let’s take a look at the most common causes of commercial fires so you can take the proper precautions.

Cooking and Kitchen Appliances

Every year the same cause remains at the top of the list for non-residential fires, and this is cooking fires. These cause approximately 25% to 30% of fires, with many caused by human error and others by malfunctioning appliances.
Because a kitchen is such a high-risk space with numerous heat sources, it is important to make sure these areas are equipped with suitable protection. This means readily accessible fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and sprinklers.


The next most common cause is arson which is deliberately caused fires. These fires represent about 10% of all fires; however, unfortunately, these are also the most damaging fires and cause the largest number of injuries and deaths to occupants.

In most cases, these fires will occur after hours, and those started later in the day will typically result in greater damage than those occurring during business hours. This is because there is no one around to detect it.

These fires may be started just about anywhere; however, the most common places are areas such as bathrooms, garbage bins, and garages. This is why it is important to have fire detection systems and sprinklers in even these unlikely seeming spaces.

It may be impossible to completely prevent arson, but you can limit the opportunities. Try to make sure trash is regularly emptied and shrubbery is trimmed to limit the flammable materials and hiding places around your building. Also, try to place motion lights or cameras in areas that see limited use to catch fires quicker when they do occur.

Human Error

Fires caused by people unintentionally are nearly as common in third place, accounting for about 10% of fires. These are, in turn, caused by an immense number of reasons, so it is important to ensure employees are trained in general fire safety.

Some causes include improper disposal of cigarettes, misplacement of heating equipment, and improper use of electrical equipment. Similar to intentionally caused fires, it is impossible to completely prevent these fires, so proper safety systems such as smoke alarms, fire, and smoke curtains, and sprinklers are crucial to limiting harm.

HVAC Malfunction

Heating and cooling systems are the next most common, with about 9% of fires caused by this source. These systems should be regularly inspected for safety, especially during the colder months when usage is at its heaviest. Also, all flammable materials should be kept away from heat sources, and smoke alarms should be placed in the room where the HVAC system is stored to catch fires if and when they occur.

Final Thoughts

There are many causes of commercial fires, and regardless of the source, they all pose considerable danger. That is why it is important to limit the potential for such a fire to occur and make sure that safety systems are in place to identify and respond to these fires as soon as they do.

Contact Us

A commercial fire can result in immense damage in only a few minutes. When your business needs help to restore itself to pre-loss condition, contact Restore Pro. Our team is IICRC certified for fire and smoke restoration and is prepared to respond quickly and restore your structure to pre-loss condition. Call us at 1-800-847-0114 and connect with us on Facebook.