The Hanover Insurance Group

Fire prevention tips for small businesses

A growing stack of wooden building blocks, some themed with fire safety visuals, topped with a red “safety” block.

Wildfires grab the headlines. For business owners, though, a fire of any size can interrupt business – and prove devastating not just to property, but the business itself.

And, it’s becoming a bigger problem. According to a 2018 report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), nonresidential buildings have experienced a 5% increase in fires over the last decade, as well as a 36% increase in dollar losses related to those fires.

According to U.S. Structure Fires in Office Occupancies, a report published by the National Fire Protection Association, these are the most common sources of commercial property fires, in order of frequency. Here are tips you can take to help prevent them.

Cooking equipment (29%)

  • Ensure office kitchen areas are cleaned daily.
  • Prohibit the use of hot plates.
  • Ensure that stoves, ovens and other cooking equipment are serviced at least annually by a qualified technician.      

An inside job at the workplace?

Arson accounts for 10% of office fires – and 20% of the property losses. To help reduce the likelihood of intentionally-set fires:

  • Implement a security and emergency management program, including evacuation procedures, building access control and regular guard tours.
  • Conduct periodic emergency drills.
  • Provide adequate illumination in all areas of the property, including parking lots and garages.

Electrical equipment (12%)

  • Remove combustible materials, such as trash cans, paper, and cardboard boxes, from the area in front of and to the sides of outlets, panel boxes or other heat-producing electrical equipment.
  • Limit the use of extension cords to only those instances when fixed wiring is not available.
  • Inspect extension cords for damage frequently. Check light fixtures, bulbs and displays for visible signs for damage.

Heating equipment (11%)

  • Have heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment serviced by a qualified technician at least annually and before each seasonal startup.
  • Prohibit the use of portable space heaters.
  • Keep combustible materials at least three feet from boilers, furnaces and other heating units.

Smoking (5%)

  • Prohibit smoking in the building.
  • Provide non-combustible containers outside each entranceway for disposal of smoking materials.
  • Install smoke detection equipment in areas subject to unauthorized smoking, such as bathrooms and closets.

Talk to your independent insurance agent

You turn to an insurance carrier to cover your business for damage and business interruption in the event of a fire. A high-quality carrier can provide valuable resources – such as Hanover Risk Solutions – to help reduce the chances of one happening, too. Talk to your agent today to learn more about fire safety and prevention, and to make sure your coverage is up to date.


Based on information from our risk solutions partner, ISO Services Properties, Inc., a Hanover risk solutions partner

This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation.  By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you.  The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.