Fire prevention tips for small businesses and shops

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Use these fire prevention tips for small businesses to better equip your shop or office for suppression and safety

  • Fire departments in the U.S. respond to an estimated 13,570 fires in stores and mercantile properties on average each year, which account for 3 percent of all structure fires.
  • 22 percent of fires were ignited by electrical malfunction or failure, accounting for 26 percent of direct property damage and 16 percent of personal injuries.
  • Your small business client needs a risk management plan that includes fire safety and fire prevention.
  • Their plan should include an evacuation plan, clearing storage and walkways, fire alarm and sprinkler system and more.


Fires can be catastrophic for small businesses. According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 3,000 fires cause irrevocable damage to properties each year. Fires are generally more common during the day; however, property damage is more likely to occur after-hours when no employees are around.

Related: 31 restaurant fire prevention tips for business owners

To help ensure that your staff is better equipped to stop such an event before it starts, here are some fire prevention tips for small businesses:

  1. Have an evacuation plan – Every workplace needs one of these in place. These plans should include information on which exits to use, how to get to them, and where staff members should meet outside. It’s also important to ensure each staff member is aware of every step of the plan. Keep copies of your evacuation procedures posted in break rooms and perform drills to make sure everyone knows what to do.
  2. Assign specific areas for cigarette smokers – One of the best fire prevention tips for small businesses is to designate specific areas for employees who prefer to take smoke breaks and make sure they are outdoors. You’ll also want to ensure smoking areas are away from open trash bins and there are ashtrays in place that cannot be easily tipped over.
  3. Keep stairwells clear – If your small business or shop is low on storage space, it might be tempting to put some overflow on the stairs. Avoid piling things like boxes and other supplies in close quarters in stairwells, as they could easily contribute to a fire or even just act as a general safety hazard.
  4. Check your storeroom for combustible items – Similar to keeping stairwells clear, you’ll want to avoid storing flammable materials tightly together in storage rooms or closets.
  5. Spread appliances apart – Keep electronic equipment like computers or coffee makers far enough apart so they can circulate air and keep cool. Not only will help them keep from overheating, it’ll stop them from contributing to a potential fire. It’s also recommended that any electronics not in use are left disconnected or unplugged at the end of the workday.
  6. Be aware of arson risks – According to the NFPA, arson is one of the leading causes of workplace fires. Make sure employees are diligent about locking up at the end of the day and keep hallways and other spaces as unobstructed as possible.
  7. Get a good fire alarm + sprinkler system – These are both an absolute must for fire prevention and legally required. A good fire alarm will alert your staff to any immediate issues, and sprinklers can stop a fire from spreading beyond a smolder. Be sure to routinely check both systems and replace or update as necessary.
  8. Take the garbage out – Regularly taking the garbage out is another great way to keep fire hazards from building up and your shop smelling good.
  9. Keep your fire extinguishers up to date – Fire extinguishers are one of the most vital fire prevention tips for small businesses. Make sure they are charged, easily visible and accessible, and that each employee knows exactly how to use them.
  10. Comply with fire safety codes – Complying with all fire safety codes is essential. The NFPA Life Safety Code contains specific guidelines for things like exits, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and more. For example, buildings require more than one exit, all of which are clearly marked, and must not be obstructed.
Related: Wildfire safety tips for businesses


Follow These 20 Tips to Improve Fire Prevention for Your Small Business 
Structure Fires in Stores and Other Mercantile Properties