A fire in the computer server room of Cervera Real Estate’s Brickell office Tuesday night underscored the importance of backing up office files and ensuring electrical capacity matches the load of computers and other electrical appliance in the office.
The small fire caused internal smoke damage to the building, according to spokesman Tadd Schwartz, blackening the walls and ceilings of the office. The exterior of the building is intact, he said, aside from a few blown-out windows.
No one was injured, and the company had a backup of company files on an external cloud-based server. Still, the 50 brokers and staff who work in the Brickell office at 1492 S. Miami Ave. had to move to the company’s other nearby offices.
Though the exact cause of the fire was not clear Wednesday, a City of Miami Fire Rescue spokesman said the department responds to three or four electrical fires each month. Most are preventable, said Capt. Ignatius Carroll, spokesman for the City of Miami Fire Rescue.
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“A lot of time people get injured, or sometimes people even die, for something that’s avoidable,” said Carroll.
Most office fires start because too many demands are made on a single outlet, said JP Roatta, the owner of IT Support Miami.
Servers and computers are power hogs. Roatta recommends calculating how much electricity appliances are pulling and double-checking they don’t exceed capacity. If the power keeps tripping or going out, that’s probably a sign that the circuit is overloaded.
Roatta also warns against connecting too many power strips to a single outlet. Adding those extra plugs doesn’t add extra amps.
“We have pictures of places where it’s just one outlet and 10 of those power strips,” Roatta said. “And it’s just waiting.”
Roatta and Carroll also offered these tips:
▪ Keep electrical appliances and the area around plugs clean. Fires need air, fuel and ignition. While an overloaded plug might spark a fire, dust-covered electronics are more likely to lead to fire. Keep the area around outlets clear of curtains, rugs and furniture.
▪ Invest in quality power-surge protectors that can handle several power surges. “Buying power strips off Amazon from China — that’s not the best,” said Roatta.
▪ Use uninterruptible power supplies — with back-up power sources — for servers and computers.