Unexpected Causes of Fires Within the Workplace

A key part of reducing the risk of fires in your workplace is having good fire safety knowledge. If you are aware of the potential hazards in your environment then you have the ability to reduce these risks and the subsequent likelihood of a fire. Cheshire Fire have previously written about the most common workplace fire hazards, but in this article we will cover some of the less intuitive fire risks to be aware of so as to allow you to improve fire safety in your workplace.

Unexpected Causes of Fires

Loose plug sockets

Damaged and loose plug sockets are dangerous for a variety of reasons, including for being a fire risk. A loose plug socket strains the wiring connections which in itself can be damaging and reduce functioning. Strained connections are also at risk of overheating and causing a fire. Make sure all sockets are attached firmly to the walls and receive appropriate maintenance checks to avoid this risk.

Overloaded sockets and extension leads

In modern offices, having a lot of computers and other electrical equipment around is common, and a lot of electricity is therefore needed to power the numerous machines. This can lead to a lot of extension cords, and therefore sockets being overloaded with plugs. However, particularly with older wiring, sockets can’t necessarily deal with this excessive electricity flow. If sockets or extension leads are overloaded, malfunctions and overheating can occur, leading to fires. Make sure you don’t overload sockets or exceed the total amp limit specified for your extension lead.  

Overheating computers or laptops

Improper air circulation to the cooling vents and fans of your computer or laptop will cause the system to overwork and overheat. Reduced air circulation can be caused by various blockages including from dust, items being placed on or blocking the vents or from laptops being left on soft surfaces, like chairs. Make sure your computing equipment, especially around the vents, is kept clean and clear. Turn off equipment overnight to reduce overworking, too.


Fires are often started by faulty appliances but most people will overlook a dishwasher as a potential fire risk. Many offices will have a kitchen area including a dishwasher which will likely be used very frequently. Dishwashers generate heat, use electricity and contain water when functioning – generally not a safe combination – so it’s somewhat unsurprising this item can be a risk. Often, problems which let liquid into the electrical workings cause damage and malfunctioning which can lead to a fire. Make sure the machine is well-maintained and not left on overnight to reduce risks.

Glass objects

Albeit rare, there is a risk that glass objects can be the cause of fires. If glassware is left in a very sunny spot, the light can get magnified through the glass and cause excessive heat to be concentrated on a small area. If this area happens to contain flammable objects – for example, papers or flammable fabrics – a fire could potentially occur. Try and keep glassware out of strong sunlight to avoid this possibility.

Paper piles

Piles of paper – whether of documents, magazines, newspapers or similar – are a fire hazard due to the fact that there’s a large amount of flammable substances in one place. The risk is increased if they are near to other potential risks, such as those on this list. Organise and file away papers to reduce this risk.


Cheshire Fire are leading suppliers of fire safety equipment and training around the Cheshire area. We can also provide fire risk assessments for your business to ensure all fire hazards are accounted for and appropriate preventative measures can be taken. For more information about the products and services we provide, or for general enquiries, contact our team of experts today.