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Preventing Residential Fires

Ron Martin - Wednesday, February 28, 2018

There are more than 1,000 residential fires per day, which in 2015 resulted in $7.2 billion in direct property damage and took 2,605 civilian lives, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). 

A Philadelphia Insurance Company study found that the leading causes of residential fires among its policyholders were electrical issues, smoking, and cooking. Additional hazards include laundry dryers, barbeques, and flammable liquids. To address these causes, they recommend the following tips and resources to help you and your organization reduce the chances of a fire incident:

Electrical Fire Safety

  • Do not overload your system by using "daisy chains" of power strips or extension cords
  • Have the entire electrical system inspected by a qualified electrician prior to building purchase or occupancy
  • Have your electrical system inspected at least every 10 years by a qualified electrician
  • Have an infrared scan of your electrical system with a thermographic camera every three to seven years to identify hot spots
  • Tighten or replace components where hot spots exist to help prevent electrical fires and for possible savings in electrical consumption
  • Visually inspect key electrical components, like breakers and switches, on an ongoing basis, making sure they are clean, dry, and tight
  • If your facility has aluminum wiring or Federal Pacific Stab-Lok breakers, these are known fire hazards; contact PHLY Risk Management Services for guidance

Smoking Fire Safety

  • Make your facility smoke-free
  • If you cannot have a non-smoking building, create a safe smoking area at least 20 feet away from the building with a non-combustible, non-tipping receptacle for ash and butts

Cooking Fire Safety

  • Implement cooking fire preventative devices, such as stovetops that sense unattended cooking or limiting the temperature of the cooking surface
  • Implement cooking fire reactive devices that expel an extinguishing agent in the event of a fire

Laundry Dryer Fires

  • Verify that dryer lint traps are in good condition and being cleaned often to prevent buildup
  • Ducting from the dryers should be smooth aluminum, and should also be on a cleaning schedule

Flammable Liquids

  • Do not store more flammable liquids or aerosols than necessary on a property. Discard all not being used and store the remainder in a UL listed flammable liquids cabinet

Barbecues

  • Consider a policy of "no personal" barbecues on site. Provide a community barbecue located away from any building
  • Do not allow any charcoal barbecues to be used onsite
  • If personal barbecues are allowed, they should be used a minimum of 10 feet from any structure and not allowed on any combustible deck

Residential fires are unfortunately common, with 93% of all deaths from structure fires occurring in residential buildings, according to the NFPA. Preventing fires is a joint effort by building owners, building managers, and residents. A reasonable investment of time and resources by all three parties can help keep people safe and protect real estate investments. For more information, please contact our office.

Reprinted with permission by Philadelphia Insurance Company


 
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