Fire prevention is something we often take for granted. We probably run frequent fire drills and buy the best fire extinguishers available. Most of us have a fetish for firemen. However, these are all reactive solutions. We can save a lot of time, money, and even lives by stopping the fires from happening in the first place. Here are few suggestions from fire experts.

Inspect and clean your air ducts

We often focus on air quality and heating when we think about air conditioning systems. However, there are three ways in which poorly maintained air ducts can cause fire. One, they may be clogged with flammable materials. Pet hairs, bird flakes, animal droppings, wood chips, and fibres can all find their way into your ducts. If something causes a spark, these items could catch fire in seconds.

Air ducts circulate air throughout the house, so they contain a lot of fast-moving oxygen-rich air. This can spread the sparks faster while fanning the flames. And third, the electricals in your air HVAC system can short-circuit, making the fire so much worse. Check your air ducts frequently. Change your air filters every two to three months, and have your ducts professionally cleaned every three to five years. This gets rid of flammable contaminants.

Assess your risk of fire hazards

Fire drills train you on how to respond during a fire, but it’s just as important to test for the likelihood of fire. Regular professional assessment can identify and get rid of items that are potentially flammable. For example, most fire policies suggest a building must have two exits and that the exits must be obstructed. However, general clutter can cause fire too.

If you have a lot of flammable furniture and stationery filling your office space, it would be very easy for a fire to start and spread. All it takes accidentally splashing coffee on a computer, which ignites a spark. Or something might catch the flame from a birthday cake candle. Keep the office as tidy and minimalist as possible to prevent speedy ignition.

Invest in fire retardants

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, but it can be helpful to control the smoke before it bursts into flame. Smoke detectors are crucial here, because they can catch potential fires before they flare up. Attach your smoke detector to a sprinkler system that will douse any sparks while they’re still relatively harmless.

Get multi-purpose fire extinguishers that can stop flames regardless of what ignited them. They’re especially beneficial because they can put out a spark without damaging computers, phones, and other office electronics. For the office itself, use flame-resistant construction materials and flame-retardant fabric for office upholstery. Be careful though, because flame-resistant furniture sometimes contains polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which can cause allergies.

Establish a no-printing policy. It doesn’t just save trees, it reduces the amount of paper on desks and shelving. You can also use flame-resistant paper where necessary. Generally speaking, prevent office fires from getting started by installing smoke detectors, assessing fire hazards, and using hypo-allergenic flame-resistant office products.