Warehouses are always vital repositories for a business’ stock. They store most, if not all, of a business’ goods ready for sale or distribution.

Because they have such an important function—safeguarding the biggest source of a business’ income—warehouses can control a business’ fate. Any warehouse disaster, such as a fire, can have disastrous consequences, potentially shutting down the warehouse and forcing the entire business to cease operations.

Neglecting to shield your warehouse against fires means you could be sealing your business’ fate. As an owner, manager or warehouse operator, do not let all your hard work go up in smoke—adopt these simple measures to stamp out fires in your warehouse.

Follow This 5 Step Procedure To Reduce Fire Hazards Today

The starting point for any successful workplace fire safety program is undertaking a risk assessment according to the fire safety legislation relevant for your area. Most risk assessments follow these five steps: (Disclosure: While this post is  a great resource to help you identify fire risks within your business, it does not replace a professional assessment that is tailored to your specific needs and requirements.)

1. Identify the fire hazards.

2. Determine the people at risk.

3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks.

4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training.

5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly.

1. Identify the Fire Hazards.

In order for a fire to start there must be 3 components present, these consist of…

1. Oxygen (or the air we breath)

2. Fuel (chemicals, vapors, liquids, etc…)

3. Ignition source (spark, naked flame, light switch, heater, etc..)

Most likely you have all 3 of these components present in your warehouse or business in some form, below we have provided a list of each of these components, this is NOT a complete list but a list to get you thinking about what around you is a potential fire hazard as Fire Prevention is much easier then recovery.

Click here to download your FREE “22 Point Fire Prevention Checklist”


Well this one is fairly obvious as it is the air around us. However if your work involves stored oxygen tanks or cylinders you will want to ensure you have a proper  procedure in place to make sure the tanks are closed when not in use and pressurized properly according to the tank manufacturer recommendations.


Fuel is really anything that can burn from the note pad you may use at your desk to more obvious ones like gasoline. While the majority of items around you will provide fuel to a fire you want to make sure that you have procedures in place on the substances around you that burn easily and which there is enough of it to spread a fire in the workplace. Here is an example list of fuels you may want to consider procedures for…

  • Any paper products or archived paperwork
  • Empty boxes, packing materials
  • Paint, solvents, oils, or other flammable liquids
  • Fabric Furnishings, foam filled cushions
  • Shipping pallets
  • Any flammable gasses stored or used on the premises, including refrigerants and aerosols
  • Any plastic materials
  • Any kind of Waste

Ignition Sources

  • Cigarettes, matches, lighters
  • Anything with a naked flame, such as burners, candles, furnace, etc…
  • Heaters of any type, especially portable propane heaters
  • Wedding, grinding, metal work of any kind
  • Lighting, especially halogen lights
  • Any electrical switches (do all your switches work properly off and on)
  • Electrical rooms
  • Anything that gets hot or causes a spark, including office equipment and your Break room appliances

Using the information gleaned from your risk assessment, establish fire safety procedures that are tailored to your business’ fire risks. Train all employees in these procedures to ensure a unified response in the event of a fire. Institute an employee self-inspection program to maintain housekeeping standards and fire protection measures.

2. Determine the People at Risk.

In step two of your assessment you need to identify anyone who may be at risk if there is a fire in your place of work. Again this may be obvious but we are literally talking about peoples lives at stake. you want to want to take some time on this and go through each of your departments and locations and determine who is a permanent on premise employee and who is an off premises. employee. You will want to consider vendors, contractors, customers or other visitors that may be at of your workplace.

Here are a few other ideas to get you started on thinking of the people that visit your workplace…

  • Anyone working alone or outside your workplace like a security guard
  • Public Visitors or Temp workers
  • Anyone that may not be able to leave the premises quickly in an emergency
  • Anyone with a language barrier

Think through all the different scenarios of when people will be in and out of your workplace and why they could be at risk. Knowing this information makes creating your fire procedures easier and better equipped.

Click here to download your FREE “22 Point Fire Prevention Checklist”

3. Evaluate, Remove or Reduce the Risks.

So you have identified the Fire hazards and Who is at Risk, now it is time to either remove the risk if possible or at minimum, reduce the risk of the fire hazard if not done already. Keep in mind that while you know what the risks are if you do not have procedures in place to follow you are still at the same risk level of having a fire.

The next step is to now is…

1. Assess the risk of those hazards resulting in a fire

2.Assess the risk these hazards present to the people already identified

3. Remove or reduce the fire hazards

4. Remove or reduce the risk to people

1. Assess the risk of those hazards resulting in a fire
Now that you have your identified hazards its time to determine if you can remove the hazard completely or at minimum reduce it as much as possible. A Phrase used often is “common sense” unfortunately everyone has their own definition and we recommend that in regards to safety it should never be used. The picture to the left explains it all.

Consider possible consequences if things don’t go as planed. Consider what could happen if someone was careless or lazy. We all get interrupted leaving us open to forget to complete a task.

Consider what someone would have to do to intentionally start a fire at your workplace. Can you take action to reduce this risk?

2. Assess the risk these hazards present to the people already identified
Go through the list you created of people who could be at risk and make a judgement about the likely risk to these people if one of the possible scenarios you have considered in the section above should occur. Think about the hazard, where the fire would start, where it would spread to and how quickly.

In considering the spread of fire, you need to have an awareness of the ways in which fire can spread. Fire spreads in three ways, by convection, conduction and radiation. Convection is the main one to concern yourself with for now, as it is the one that leads to most injuries and death.

Convection in this context is the spread of heat (and in this case smoke) through the air. When a fire starts in a room the smoke rises up, forming a thick layer on the ceiling, gradually filling the room from the top down. The smoke will find its way through any tiny gaps in the ceiling, walls, doors, etc and spreads to the top of the building. A fire on the ground floor can quickly cut off escape routes on the floors above, long before the actual fire itself has got that far. In a closed space like a building, the heat from the fire is trapped inside, and the temperature increases.

Remember, smoke is poisonous and is usually what kills people in a fire.

In considering the risks to people, think about the escape routes – can they get out of the building before a fire can spread enough to trap them? Consider the following:

Is there a fire risk in an area that could block off the only means of escape for some people (consider people on higher floors, or disabled access routes)?

Think about lift shafts and ventilation ducts and how fire and smoke could spread through these.

How would spread of fire be affected if fire doors were propped open? Do you fire doors close properly?

Is ‘fire stopping’ adequate in vulnerable areas? Are there any holes in walls where cables or other services have been run in? They must be ‘stopped’ up to prevent spread of fire and smoke.

3. Remove or reduce the fire hazards
You have already identified all the possible fire hazards in the first part of your Fire Risk Assessment. Now you need to use your knowledge of the three things a fire needs in order to start in order to eliminate or manage those hazards

Remove or Reduce the source of Ignition

Consider the following:

Have a smoking policy which takes into account the need to minimize the risk of smoking materials being left where they could lead to a fire.

Try to remove the need for any naked flame heaters or portable heaters of any sort. Use central heating where possible, or fixed convector heaters.

Keep anything you have identified as combustible well away from any potential heat source. Don’t store anything close to lights, don’t store anything combustible in any room with electrical equipment (fuse boards, power intake rooms, etc).

Reduce risk of fires from portable electrical goods by having them regularly.

Make sure you are not an easy target for arsonists.

Have a permit system for ‘hot works’, which ensures that checks are made after work has finished to ensure that no ignition has taken place and that no material is smoldering.

Remove or Reduce the source of Fuel

You now know what your sources of ‘fuel’ are, so consider how you might reduce the risk of these things contributing to a fire. Think about the following to begin with:

If you have stock which is very combustible, do you need to keep that much of it on your premises? Could you order smaller quantities more frequently?

If you have to have flammable materials, keep stocks to a minimum, keep them is specially selected storage areas only.

Ensure combustible waste materials are not allowed to build up – arrange regular collection and proper storage between collections.

If you have areas of combustible material as part of your fixtures and fittings (carpets, curtains, drapes, etc) consider alternatives, or have them treated with flame retardant.

Remove or Reduce the source of Fuel

The main area that affects everyone is the movement of air around your premises. Consider the following:

Ensure all fire doors are properly maintained (a maintenance contract is a useful way of ensuring this happens regularly) and that people do not wedge them open. If it is desirable to have fire doors held open at certain times, the only safe way of doing this is to use door-holders that are linked into the fire alarm system, so they close automatically in the event of a fire. These are usually electro-magnetic.

Ensure all doors and windows are kept closed as much as possible, and make it part of the locking up procedure to check this at night.

If you have to keep oxygen cylinders on the premises ensure they are in a well ventilated area and are not leaking.

4. Remove or reduce the risk to people
Now that you are aware of the fire hazards and have reduced the risk of fire as much as you can, you need to reduce the remaining risk to people to as low as reasonably practicable. You do this by making sure that you have appropriate fire precautions in place so that if you do have a fire, everyone can get out safely.

I cannot prescribe the exact fire precautions you need to have in place – it very much depends on your workplace and business practices. Your fire precautions need to be in proportion to the level of risks you have identified, so there is no need to go over the top if you know that the risks are low.

What you must do is ensure that those risks which remain are managed and minimised as far as is reasonable.

For example, you may decide on the following measures:

All visitors to your premises have to sign in and out so you know exactly who is in the building if there is a fire.

Have certain areas where only trained personnel can go.

You need to introduce a system to limit the number of people in your premises, to prevent having more people than your exit routes can deal with quickly.

Click here to download your FREE “22 Point Fire Prevention Checklist”

4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training.

Be sure to down load our “Self Fire assessment and Procedure packet” as it contains a general check list that you can follow as well as a working document to record your findings as you complete your analysis. Once you are done, don’t wait to train your staff on the proper procedures to remove and reduce fire hazards.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to call us at 1.800.768.7036

5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly.

The hard work is now completed and to make sure that your hard work doesn’t go to wast it is important that you schedule a time to review your fire assessment and procedures on a regular basis, this could mean every six months to yearly.

Click here to download your FREE “22 Point Fire Prevention Checklist”