Residential Fire Safety- Philadelphia Insurance Companies

Residential Fire Safety

In 2020, the pandemic compounded the three leading causes of residential fires PHLY has identified - cooking, electrical equipment issues, and smoking. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) even urged added caution around residential fire safety, noting that changes in routine could lead to distracted or unattended cooking, the main cause of cooking fires. Adding computers, monitors, and other devices needed to work or attend school from home could also increase the risk of an electrical fire. Finally, tenants or residents who use smoking materials may be more likely to use them inside the property.

Now, with the pandemic entering a new phase as more people are returning to work or school in person, there is still a need to remain vigilant. This was made evident by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) providing specific fire safety considerations for schools who are welcoming returning students to in-person learning.

To address these causes and others, including laundry dryer fires, barbeques, and flammable liquids, PHLY recommends the following tips and resources to help businesses and organizations reduce the chances of a fire:

Electrical Fire Safety

  • Do not overload your system by using "daisy chains" of power strips or extension cords
  • Have the entire electrical system inspected by a qualified electrician prior to building purchase or occupancy
  • Have your electrical system inspected at least every 10 years by a qualified electrician
  • Have an infrared scan of your electrical system with a thermographic camera every three to seven years to identify hot spots
  • Tighten or replace components where hot spots exist to help prevent electrical fires and for possible savings in electrical consumption
  • Visually inspect key electrical components, like breakers and switches, on an ongoing basis, making sure they are clean, dry, and tight
  • If your facility has aluminum wiring or Federal Pacific Stab-Lok breakers, these are known fire hazards; contact PHLY Risk Management Services for guidance

Smoking Fire Safety

  • Make your facility smoke-free
  • If you cannot have a non-smoking building, create a safe smoking area at least 20 feet away from the building with a non-combustible, non-tipping receptacle for ash and butts

Cooking Fire Safety

  • Implement cooking fire preventative devices, such as stovetops that sense unattended cooking or limit the temperature of the cooking surface
  • Implement Auto-Out fire reactive devices that expel an extinguishing agent in the event of a fire
  • If fire extinguishers or other extinguishing devices are provided, be sure to have them checked and tested as recommended by the manufacturer

Laundry Dryer Fire Safety

  • Verify that dryer lint traps are in good condition and being cleaned often to prevent buildup
  • Ducting from the dryers should be smooth aluminum, and should also be on a cleaning schedule

Flammable Liquid Fire Safety

  • Do not store more flammable liquids or aerosols than necessary on a property. Discard all not being used and store the remainder in a UL listed flammable liquids cabinet

Barbecue Fire Safety

  • Consider a policy of "no personal" barbecues on site. Provide a community barbecue located away from any building
  • Do not allow any charcoal barbecues to be used onsite
  • If personal barbecues are allowed, they should be used a minimum of 10 feet from any structure and not allowed on any combustible deck

Finally, make sure smoke detectors are present and operational. In-home fires resulting in deaths, 57% of the time a smoke alarm was not present or was not operational, according to the NFPA. Other fire detection or extinguishing equipment, such as fire sprinklers, should also be regularly checked and properly maintained.

Ultimately, the goal is to prevent fires, which requires a joint effort by building owners, building managers, and residents. A reasonable investment of time and resources by all three parties can help keep people safe and protect real estate investments. For more information, watch our four-minute video and check out the resources below.

Resources for Residents

For Property Owners and Managers

IMPORTANT NOTICE - The information and suggestions presented by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company in this E-Brochure is for your consideration in your loss prevention efforts. They are not intended to be complete or definitive in identifying all hazards associated with your business, preventing workplace accidents, or complying with any safety related, or other, laws or regulations. You are encouraged to alter them to fit the specific hazards of your business and to have your legal counsel review all of your plans and company policies.

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