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Survey: Nearly Half of Laundry Managers Report Having Suffered Fire

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO — Fire is a constant threat to those working in the institutional or industrial laundry industry. And nearly half of managers who responded to this month’s AmericanLaundryNews.com Wiresurvey—45.5%—say their laundry, or one under their administration, has suffered a fire during their tenure.

For two-thirds of respondents, their operation’s most recent fire started in a dryer. Equal shares (16.7%) experienced fires that started either in an ironer or in a cart containing textiles. No one who took the anonymous survey reported having suffered a fire related to chemicals or the laundry structure.

Based on those results, it’s not surprising that laundry equipment presents the biggest worry (50%) for managers concerned about fire potential. “Other” was next on the list at 30%; every respondent who chose this response pointed to lint as the factor. Equal shares of 10% worry about textiles or a boiler or water heater. No one who took the survey is concerned about the fire potential of laundry chemicals or the structure.

Half of the fires cited in the survey caused minor damage. One-third caused moderate damage, and the remaining 16.7% caused major damage. Some descriptions:

  • “Resident comforter was poly filled and had a tear in it.”
  • “Lint fire in plumbing area under the ironer was caused by a bad bearing. Improved housekeeping program.”
  • “Spontaneous combustion of dietary rags sitting in dryer. Dryer was left running at end of shift. Maintenance department found the fire. Dryer was destroyed and replaced. All loads MUST be complete and unloaded before end of shift now.”
  • “Clean kitchen mops were not cooled properly.”
  • “Operator hit wrong button.”

Eighty percent of respondents say their laundry has had a fire drill either within the last month (40%) or last six months (40%). Everyone who responded to the survey believes his or her facility is safer today than it was at the time of the most recent fire.

While the Wiresurvey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.

Subscribers to Wiree-mails are invited to take a brief industry survey anonymously online each month. All managers and administrators of institutional/OPL, cooperative, commercial and industrial laundries are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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