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Fire Damage in Retail Stores
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Retail establishments represent one of the more serious fire risks out there, due to the widespread use of volatile plastics, which are not only easily ignited, but may produce hazardous fumes that may present serious health concerns. In addition, shopping centers offer enclosed areas that may trap smoke and other toxins, as well as a shared ventilation system that may transport smoke into areas otherwise unaffected by the fire.
Many retail establishments also lack proper evacuation plans in the event of a blaze, as well as less than ideal water pressure with which to combat the outbreak of a fire.
Fire Hazards in a Shopping Center
Adding to the problem, shopping centers are equipped with a wide variety of establishments, not just retail stores, but restaurants, nightclubs, movie theatres, food courts, hotel chains, many of which adopt their own unique architecture and design. What may work for ingress and egress in one location may be different in another, not only due to design but the fact that many locations have various hours. Some stores may be open 24 hours a day while others are locked promptly at night not to reopen until the next day.
If there is some good news, it is that the majority of fires in retail stores tend to start during the day, usually the result of action taken by workers or customers or the near constant use of electronic equipment that may overload. What is good about this? Simple: fires that start during the day have a much greater chance of being confined and contained to a small area. Fires that are triggered at night are far rarer, but more dangerous since they usually have a considerable amount of time to develop undetected, which means they may be able to spread much further before any action may be taken to extinguish them.
Retail establishments are encouraged to have a sprinkler system installed and to make sure that the water pressure is sufficient to smother any fire that may occur. In addition, smoke alarms are recommended to provide the earliest possible warning of a fire threat and fire extinguishers should be present throughout the store to allow for rapid squelching of any small fires before they have the chance to grow and become a greater threat.
Exit signs should be clearly marked and illuminated. Exit doors and stairwells should be free and clear from any obstruction or clutter. More than one person has died or been injured in a fire because they either could not find the exit or could not get through it rapidly enough.
Local certified restoration professionals are available in your community to handle even the largest fire and water problems that may occur. Available 24/7, with same day emergency service, they can be onsite within the hour and ready to begin the cleanup process. The result is a business return to its pre-loss condition as soon as possible with minimal interruption of the establishment's business and customer service.