Fire Protection Tips for Houston Area Grocery Stores

As a grocery store owner or manager, you know many factors come together to make your franchise location successful. One thing you can’t forget to consider is fire safety. After all, you’re responsible for making sure your customers and employees are safe from fire. To make your job easier, learn about grocery store fire hazards and the best ways to protect against them.

Fires in Stores and Mercantile Properties

Based on a report from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), over 16,000 fires occurred each year in stores and other mercantile properties across the country between 2004 and 2008. These fires resulted in about 13 civilian deaths, 242 civilian injuries and $648 million in property damage annually. About 27 percent of these fires occurred in grocery stores and other businesses selling food and beverages.

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Fire Hazards in Houston Grocery Stores

Grocery stores are categorized as Ordinary Hazard (Group 2), which means the stockpile and combustibility of contents are moderate to high. The specific fire hazards found in an average grocery store include:

  • Cooking equipment: Many grocery stores have bakeries and deli departments where bread and meat are cooked. Cooking equipment is responsible for 19 percent of mercantile property fires, making it the most likely reason for your grocery store to experience a fire.
  • Electrical distribution and lighting equipment: Grocery store electrical systems can malfunction, especially considering all the power needed for lighting and refrigeration. These systems are responsible for 12 percent of grocery store fires.
  • Heating equipment: Even with aisles of frozen and refrigerated goods, grocery stores must still stay warm in the winter. As a result, malfunctioning heating equipment accounts for 11 percent of store fires.
  • Arson: Sometimes fires are set intentionally, which results in 10 percent of mercantile building fires.
  • Smoking materials: You’d be surprised the damage lit cigarettes can inflict when disposed of improperly. These and other smoking materials cause 9 percent of food and beverage store fires.

Fire Protection for Houston Grocery Stores

While precautions such as using cooking equipment safely and locking the building at night to prevent mischief certainly help reduce the chance of fire, it’s impossible to fully eliminate the risk. If a fire starts, make sure you’re prepared with the proper fire protection equipment.

  • Fire extinguishers: These are among the most effective ways to put out fires. Your trained employees can act quickly to douse a newly ignited blaze before it grows into a real threat. Choosing the right fire extinguishers for the proper locations, including Class K extinguishers in the kitchen area, is vital for this fire protection method to be effective.
  • Fire sprinklers: Most grocery store fires occur during the day, but property damage is more than two times higher at night because no one’s around to extinguish the blaze. By installing fire sprinklers according to Houston fire codes, you gain 24/7 protection against fires.
  • Commercial kitchen fire suppression: The cooking area in your grocery store should feature the necessary vent hood and suppression equipment in case hot cooking fuel ignites.
  • Fire alarm system: Alerting customers and employees of a fire emergency in your grocery store is a vital part of ensuring everyone gets out safely. Install a fire alarm system complete with smoke detectors, pull stations, strobe lights and sirens to detect fires and alert the public.

Need help protecting your grocery store from fire? Work with Kauffman Co., your full-service fire protection company located right here in Houston. We offer everything you need to keep your building and the people inside safe. To learn more, or to schedule services, please contact us online or call us at (713) 893-1090.

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