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Fire Damage in Shopping Malls
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
Since the late 1950s, the shopping mall has been one of the more popular social establishments in American culture, drawing thousands of shoppers, walkers, and even people watchers every day. They offer a plethora of different things to do, places to eat, and attractions to enjoy.
Potential Fire Hazards
Instances of fire damage in shopping malls are rare, but it does occur. Malls are particularly susceptible to fire loss due to the large number of people present as well as the high volume of flammable materials that pass through the average mall on a given day. Coupled with shared ventilation systems that may carry smoke and other toxic fumes throughout the entire complex, you have the stage set for a serious problem.
In addition, shopping malls utilize a varying array of design schemes because so many different establishments occupy the space. From retail shops, restaurants, and nightclubs to movie theaters, food courts, and maybe even a hotel chain or two, most of which open and close at various hours, and you begin to see that there is the potential for a considerable disaster in the event of a fire.
Even worse, because of the various hours that some mall establishments are open, doors and stairwells commonly used for exits may be locked and unlocked at different hours. Exits not normally used may be blocked by any and all kinds of clutter. Adding to the fire threat, many employees of these establishments are not properly trained on fire extinguishing equipment, nor are they prepared to coordinate any kind of evacuation.
When Fires Do Occur
If there is good news, it is the fact that most mall fires begin during the day, when there are more people present, more electrical items being used, more restaurants preparing meals, etc. When these fires do occur, they are usually discovered quickly and extinguished.
While fires beginning at night are much rarer, they also tend to be the most damaging, due in large part to the fact that they are not discovered until they have spread, and inadequate sprinkler systems may not be enough to knock them down.
The owners of mall locations need to be aware of the fire threat and take proper steps to prevent it. Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers should be placed throughout the store or restaurant with employees aware of where they are and trained on how to properly use them.
Similarly, there should be a plan put in place for the timely and effective evacuation of the establishment in the event of a fire, with every employee familiar with that plan and trained on how to properly execute it.
Exits should be clearly marked and free from clutter or obstruction. More than one fire death has been attributed to the victim being unable to locate or get through a fire exit.
In the event of a fire, damage restoration services should be called as quickly as possible in order to begin repair of the facility and minimize the loss of business due to repair downtime.