Common causes of workplace fires in the UK

Published April 28, 2022

Read time 3 mins

This article was updated on 19th December 2023.

The following workplace fire statistics have been compiled to shed light on the significant fire risks faced by UK businesses. All data was sourced from The Home Office’s most recently available fire statistics data tables, which include detailed information on incidents attended by the UK’s Fire and Rescue Services.

For this update, only workplaces were included in our analysis; unlike previous years, non-dwellings such as public buildings, private non-residential buildings, garages, religious buildings, and communal living spaces were excluded.


Key workplace fire statistics for 2023

  • There were 7,649 workplace fires in 2022/23
  • Workplace fires are most often caused by faulty appliances and leads
  • Industrial premises are most at risk of workplace fires
  • 17% of all workplace fires are started deliberately
  • 39% of healthcare premises fires are started deliberately

Top 5 causes of workplace fires

1. Arson

Arson is a legitimate concern for UK businesses, with almost a fifth (17%) of workplace fires identified as deliberate. Retail premises such as shops and supermarkets are at the highest risk of deliberately started fires, with a total of 223 fires reported overall. While healthcare premises had fewer fires overall, the percentage of deliberate fires is higher than all other workplace types, at 39%.

2. Faulty appliances and leads

The most common cause of accidental fires in the workplace is faulty appliances and leads, which could include faulty electrical plug sockets, old electrical equipment or outdated wiring systems. 

3. Faulty fuel supplies

Boilers, fuel storage tanks, and the storage of flammable liquids such as diesel and petrol all pose significant fire risk when not maintained properly. 

4. Misuse of equipment or appliances

Irresponsible use of electrical equipment in workplaces, such as overloading power sockets, using outdated equipment, or operating tools and appliances designed for outdoor use indoors, carries a significant fire risk.

5. Placing articles too close to heat

Placing combustible materials too close to heat sources such as heaters, cooking equipment, or welding tools can significantly increase the chances of a workplace fire. Paper & cardboard, food, and rubbish, waste & recycling are commonly attributed to the development of fires in the workplace.

Workplaces most at risk of fire

The workplaces with the most fires in 2022/23 were as follows:

1. Industrial premises

Including manufacturing facilities, mines and quarries, vehicle repair workshops, warehouses, storage facilities and other industrial premises.

  • Total fires: 1,774
  • Accidental fires: 1,619
  • Deliberate fires: 155

2. Food & drink premises

Including commercial kitchens, restaurants, cafes, takeaway food outlets, and other food & drink premises. 

  • Total fires: 1,362
  • Accidental fires: 1,228
  • Deliberate fires: 134

3. Retail premises

Including shops, supermarkets, department stores, shopping centres and other retail premises.

  • Total fires: 1,325
  • Accidental fires: 1,102
  • Deliberate fires: 223

4. Hotels & hospitality premises

Including hotels, hostels, animal boarding, B&Bs, caravan sites and other hospitality premises.

  • Total fires: 587
  • Accidental fires: 479
  • Deliberate fires: 108

5. Healthcare premises

Including hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, specialised care centres and other healthcare premises.

  • Total fires: 543
  • Accidental fires: 332
  • Deliberate fires: 211

Office fires

There were a total of 366 office fires reported in 2022/23, which is a 54% decrease compared with five years ago. A possible explanation for this is the fact more people are now working from home than they were previously, resulting in fewer fires started by human error. 

Preventing fires in the workplace

As an employer, landlord, property owner, occupier or building manager, you have responsibility for ensuring fire safety. As the responsible person you must undertake a number of steps that ensure your premises, and the people residing within, are safe from fire. For more information about your responsibilities, visit www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities.

If your business has been impacted by a fire, visit our commercial fire insurance claims page to find out how Morgan Clark could help with your insurance claim.

Sources: All data sourced from www.gov.uk

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