A Fire-Safe Workplace

This section is based off the pamphlet “Fire Safety on the Job” �1996 by the National Fire Protection Association. Contact the Fire Marshal for more information.



Arson is the largest single cause of fires in general office buildings.

  • Follow your building’s security measures and keep unauthorized people out of the building.  Keep doors locked after business hours.  Alleys and other areas around your building should be well lit.   Keep clutter out of halls, lobbies, alleys, and other public areas.


  • Keep waste paper, empty boxes, dirty rags, cleaning supplies, and other combustible out of exits, storage areas, and stairways.


  • Replace any cracked, frayed, or damaged electrical cords.
  • Never run extension cords across doorways or where they can be stepped on or pinched or run over by chairs or other furniture.  Do not plug extension cords into each other and avoid plugging more than one extension cord into an outlet.

Equipment and Appliances

  • Leave space for air to circulate around heaters and other heat-producing equipment, such as copy machine, coffeemakers, and computers.  Keep appliances away from anything that might catch fire.  Do not stack books or papers on top of computer monitors.

  • Designate an employee to turn off or unplug all appliances – including coffeemakers and hot plates – at the end of each workday.


Cigarettes, matches, and lighters are a major cause of all fires.  Many companies have banned smoking on the job as a health concern and to decrease the possibility of fires.

  • If your company allows smoking in the workplace, smoke only where permitted.  Do not flick ashes onto floors or into wastebaskets.  Use large, non-tip ashtrays, and make sure everything in them is cold before you empty them.

  • Apply the same cautions to visitors and be alert to smoldering cigarette butts on furniture or in wastebaskets.

Plan Ahead

In the event of a fire, a safe and speedy response depends on how well employees and employers are prepared for emergencies.

Employees should…

  • Count the doors or desks between their work areas and the nearest exit.  During a fire, employees may have to find their way out in the dark.

  • Learn the location of alternative exits from all work areas.

  • Know the location of the nearest fire alarm and learn how to use it.

  • Post the fire department’s emergency phone number on or near all telephones.

  • Be sure that someone in authority knows about any disability that could delay an escape, and makes plans for a safe evacuation.

Employers should…

  • Post building evacuation plans and discuss them during new-employee orientations.

  • Conduct regular fire drills.

  • Include disabled employees in the fire emergency planning process.