Types of Fire Damage and What to Expect From That Damage

Don’t let your bottom line be affected by fire.

Knowing the most common types of fire within commercial properties, as well as the primary and secondary damage that can be incurred by them, businesses can ensure all the necessary steps are taken to get operations back to normal as quickly as possible.

Any type of fire damage on a property is a devastating event, but when it affects a business’ bottom line it can be a particularly catastrophic experience.  For commercial property owners or managers, fire prevention and employee safety are undoubtedly chief concerns.

By knowing the most common types of fire within commercial properties, as well as the primary and secondary damage that can be incurred by them, businesses can ensure all the necessary steps are taken to get operations back to normal as quickly as possible.

Cooking Fires

Cooking equipment malfunctions, as well as unintended accidents in kitchens, break-rooms, and other areas where employees prepare meals, pose major risks to all types of businesses, not just those that cook food professionally.  Food items left unattended while being prepared, as well other human errors in handling, installing, or operating cooking devices can have incredibly destructive consequences.

While kitchens are at a high-risk for an accidental blaze, there are some easy steps that business owners can take to make sure these areas are protected.  Sprinklers, alarms, and easily accessible fire extinguishers are crucial first steps, but employee safety training is just as important.  Both by implementing protocols and safety procedures in food prep areas and by devising an employee fire evacuation plan, business owners can stave off damage caused by kitchen accidents.

Electrical Wiring Fires

Electrical wiring that hasn’t been regularly maintained, is improperly wired, degraded, or just plain defective can be a major building vulnerability.  Making sure that all wiring and electrical components are operational, kept up to code, adequately serviced, and suitable for the needs of the facility are essential steps in deterring a fire.

Heating Unit Fires

Heaters, boilers, and furnaces all carry their own distinct risks if not properly installed, kept up to code, or regularly cleaned.  Jurisdictions have regulations in place to ensure heating units are properly maintained, yet there is still a distinct danger, even if all procedures are followed.  Proper servicing and maintenance to all heating systems are crucial components in a business owner’s fire prevention arsenal.

Smoking Fires

Despite indoor smoking now being relatively obsolete in most parts of North America, improper disposal of cigarettes and cigarette smoke damage remain an occasional cause for concern.  If smoking occurs on a facility’s property, designated smoking areas that are ample distance from any combustible material and making clearly marked receptacles for extinguishing cigarettes readily available to smokers, are easy ways to avoid having to make costly cigarette smoke damage restorations.

Intentionally Set Fires

Other accidentally started fires in the workplace have significant risk-factors, as, unfortunately, do arson and intentionally started fires.  Monitoring systems and fire suppression units are strong deterrents in stopping maliciously caused fire, as are regular cleaning and removal of flammable materials from facility grounds.


While the general danger of fire concerns everyone equally, properties in certain geographic regions face different threats than others.  Wildfires in the western United States and other low humidity, low moisture regions pose a significant hazard to commercial properties.

When a facility is in an area that could potentially be affected by wildfire or wildfire smoke, the best way to reduce the exposure is to be prepared.  Keeping HVAC systems serviced, properties clean of debris, and generally understanding the hazards and types of threats of the region can help in avoiding events that are costly and difficult to overcome.

Secondary Damage

Fires can do more than compromise the structural integrity of a building.  In any type of fire, smoke, soot, and chemicals can spread beyond the initial zone the fire broke out, settling deep into porous surfaces like upholstery and furniture and even machinery and equipment.  It can interrupt critical services like HVAC, electrical, or plumbing systems and can contain harmful toxins, dangerous to employees and customers.

The malicious secondary effects of a fire get worse with every hour left unattended and when left too long can be irreversible.  Smoke can cause destruction to expensive devices, biological material, undigitized documents, as well as computers and other machinery, all resulting in financial losses for a business.  In environments that need to remain sterile, such as hospitals or healthcare facilities, even the smallest puff of smoke in a malfunctioning machine can pose a risk to equipment and patients, crippling business operations.

Water Damage After A Fire

When a fire breaks out, the damage from the blaze is not the only cause for concern.  Like smoke and soot, the secondary damage caused by water, both in the form of building sprinklers and the water used by the fire department to extinguish the fire, can further add to a building’s structural degradation and equipment losses.

Mold caused by water damage can be dangerous at best, life threatening at worst.  Hiring professionals to extract the water is extremely important to mitigate the threat of mold and prevent further loss of business.  In cases of water damage repair, the most heavily affected areas of the property should be treated first, as, like smoke, it can get worse with every hour left unattended.

Delays Cause Significant Downtime

Putting out the flames is just the first step in getting back to normal after a fire.  The longer a business has been ground to a halt, the longer it will take to make up for lost revenue.

While the first call a commercial property owner should make should be to their insurance carrier, if the fire, smoke, or water damage repair isn’t something that can be managed by the owner or management company, once the okay has been given by the local authorities and the insurance company, a restoration company should be the second call.

A restoration company can quickly dispatch an emergency response crew to assess the situation and begin damage mitigation.  Restoration services can help get any parts of the facility that are still capable of operating back up and running, and can help get the more severely damaged areas back into working order quicker.  First Onsite’s goal when beginning fire, smoke, and water damage recovery is to restore as much as possible of the original building, allowing commercial properties to resume operations with little downtime.

First Onsite’s Response

As fire and smoke damage professionals, First Onsite is here to help with everything from assessing structural concerns and extracting water to removing soot and restoring air quality.  Even if the outlook is bleak, First Onsite’s professionals have the comprehensive training, cutting-edge products and equipment, and proven know-how to get a business back on its feet.

We develop an end-to-end claims process that helps mitigate loss and lessen deferred maintenance by building a restoration plan with commercial property owners.  Our team is backed by national resources, and we scale to meet the needs of a property, regardless of size.  With a 24/7 emergency response, in the event of a fire our teams will arrive quickly after an event and begin the process of restoring normalcy to any business.

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