There have been some high profile fires in warehouses over the last few years, with a recent large-scale fire at the Ocado Warehouse in Andover. While the scale of this fire may have been worse by actions that were taken at the site, the cause was a common one: electrical fire. The Ocado warehouse fire on 5 February 2019 burned for four days and completely destroyed the building. The cost of this fire has been estimated at £100 Million.
The five most common causes of warehouse fires
Understanding the common causes of warehouse fires puts you in an excellent position to manage fire safety – preventing them before they have the opportunity to start. Some of the common causes are reasonably predictable, but others might surprise you.
- Arson (or malicious fire starting) – sadly it is the case that one of the most common causes of warehouse fires is arson: relating to fires started deliberately. There are suggestions that arson cases make up nearly one-third of all property dames and 18% of specific warehouse fires. Some of these arson cases are the result of deliberate, petty criminal acts, and some are part of (attempted) insurance fraud.
- Electrical initiated fires – coming in at a very close second place of causes of warehouse fires are issues with electrical and lighting equipment. These types are fires are typically less damaging to properties than intentionally started fires, but they are still a significant problem for those in charge of warehouse fire safety. Eis something that those in charge of warehouse safety need to take very seriously. As mentioned above in the large Ocado warehouse fire, Ocado said an investigation by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and its insurers concluded the electrical fault caused a robot to catch fire.
- Space heating – be careful when you are heating a warehouse during the colder months. While this can be an essential part of the smooth running of your operation, it can be a severe fire risk. Around eight per cent of warehouse fires are caused by heating equipment, making it the third most common cause of warehouse fires.
- Exposure – this term relates to a fire resulting from heat transfer, such as from a heat source or another fire. Fires can be started by other fires. Exposure refers to combustible materials that are at risk of being set on fire by another event. In warehouse terms, this to premises that contain large amounts of materials that could catch fire if they were exposed to a flame or heat source. Exposures are understood to account for around seven per cent of warehouse fires.
- Smoking materials – while these have become let of a problem, it is still important to note here that the smoking paraphernalia can cause a large number of warehouse fires. Cigarettes, cigars, and lighters are responsible for around five per cent of the total number of warehouse fires.