What do you do when you’re a property manager of a department store in Springfield, Pennsylvania and a light fixture on the sales floor causes an electrical fire?
- First, you turn off the power to the fire at the circuit breaker board and evacuate the store.
- Then, you act quickly and spray the fixture with a C-rated fire extinguisher.
- Then, you call 911 for the fire department to inspect the building and make sure the fire hasn’t spread to other areas in the store.
- And finally, you call PuroClean Emergency Recovery Services – of course!
Electrical fires are the most common cause of fire in commercial buildings.
During the five-year period of 2007-2011, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) estimates that U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 3,340 fires in commercial properties per year.
These fires caused an average of 4 civilian deaths, 44 civilian fire injuries, and $112 million in direct property damage each year.
As in the case of our story, the primary sources of these electrical fires in commercial buildings involved electrical distribution equipment. These include lamps, light fixtures, light bulbs, and fixed wiring.
The questions is, could these fires be prevented?
Many times, there are warning signs before an electrical fire occurs.
• One warning sign are frequently blown fuses or tripped circuits. These are symptoms of electrical problems, usually from overloaded outlets or circuits.
• Another warning sign is getting a shock when touching appliances
• A third sign of potential fire is when you see worn or discolored wall outlets. This can indicate hidden arcing, smoldering or burning from damaged or improperly installed wiring in the outlet.
• Also, if you see flickering or dimming lights, it may indicate a short in the wiring, dangerous arcing, or an over-extension of electrical systems.
The Disaster Safety Organization wants you to know whether you work in a commercial building or work from home, and you notice any of these signs, here’s what you can do:
• First, if you get a shock from touching an appliance, be sure to unplug it and don’t use it again. It’s better to replace it than be sorry!
• Second, avoid using a discolored outlet or switch. And make sure every outlet and switch has a face plate!
• Third, always use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) in any area where electricity and water can touch. This includes bathrooms and kitchens but especially outlets outdoors!
• And finally, and most importantly, if you notice any of these problems, consult a licensed electrician and get an electrical system inspection!
If you’ve ever used a fire extinguisher you know that the powder goes everywhere!
Not only does it create a mess, but the powder used to suffocate the fire has some potential health hazards for you, your employees, and your customers.
Remember the purpose of the powder in the fire extinguisher. It smothers flames by preventing the oxygen that feeds it.
As discussed by Jon Taluba in the Emergency Management Magazine, breathing the dust from a discharged fire extinguisher can cause the same effect in your lungs. Fire extinguisher powder can coat the lungs and prevent them from exchanging oxygen.
In an extreme exposure, this results in hypoxia or low blood oxygenation. Severe hypoxia causes the body to build up with lactic acid. And at its most extreme, hypoxia causes acute respiratory distress syndrome or cardiac arrest.
Preventing the risk of damaging health effects from a fire extinguisher discharge requires cleaning more than just the surfaces. Even the air you breathe must be cleaned. And that requires special HEPA air filtration equipment after every fire extinguisher discharge.
PuroClean Emergency Recovery Services has this equipment and we bring it to every fire damage cleanup job!
Store managers and property managers in the Greater Philadelphia region trust the IICRC certified experts of PuroClean Emergency Recovery Services!
For fire damage cleanup in your commercial property call 877-750-7876