Top Fire Safety Challenges in Shopping Malls
No commercial structure depicts wealth and affluence more than a luxury shopping mall. While builders place a strong emphasis on creating a lavish retail experience for customers to enjoy, they can’t forget about the importance of fire protection. The equipment used for detecting and extinguishing fires may go largely unseen, but it’s a vital part of maintaining shopping mall safety.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), an estimated 13,600 fires break out in retail stores, shopping malls, and other mercantile properties each year, resulting in 12 civilian deaths, 300 civilian injuries, and $604 million in property damage. The risk of fire is just one of several public liability issues that large, multi-occupancy retail centers face, but it also has the potential to be the deadliest.
Shopping Mall Fire Safety Risks
The menagerie of outlet stores and diverse population of people who visit shopping malls make them the most complicated retail structures to design a fire protection system for. Consider the top fire safety challenges that face shopping malls and the methods used to combat them.
The food court and other restaurants attached to the mall have kitchens with hot surfaces, flammable cooking fuel, and open flames. Combine these with the hectic nature of a commercial kitchen, and you get a primary cause of fires in shopping malls.
The restaurants in your mall must be equipped with the proper fire protection measures, including vent hood systems, automatic fire suppression, and Class K fire extinguishers. Routine testing and maintenance ensure these components remain up and running in case a fire ignites.
Whether it’s an overheated electrical wire or a stray spark from a malfunctioning junction box, electricity is a common cause of fires in shopping malls. All fixed wiring must be installed and repaired by a licensed electrician to prevent unforeseen fire hazards. Also, any portable electrical equipment used in your shopping mall must meet safety standards to ensure it poses no undue risk.
Smoking, Arson & Flammable or Combustible Materials
Shopping malls have a higher-than-average chance of fire compared to other retail stores because of the high transient population and instances of loitering. These people are more likely to smoke inside the building or start a fire on purpose. Security personnel and surveillance cameras help to prevent these issues.
Short-term employees are also prone to mistakes on the job, such as storing flammable or combustible materials unsafely, which can pose a fire risk. Even the improper disposal of boxes and other packing materials from merchandise shipments can create a fire hazard in a retailer’s back room.
Schedule Fire Protection Services for Your Mall in Houston
Fire sprinklers, kitchen fire suppression systems, fire alarms, and portable fire extinguishers all play a vital role in combating these fire safety challenges in shopping malls. If you need help designing and installing a total fire protection system, or it’s time to inspect, test, or maintain your existing equipment, Kauffman Co. has you covered. We have over 35 years of experience as a leading fire protection company in Houston. Let us help protect your shopping mall from fire for optimal code compliance and life safety.
Please contact us to learn more about what we do or call (713) 893-1090 to schedule fire protection services for your shopping mall in Houston.