Construction Fire Safety – Importance and Tips
Construction sites are among the most dangerous areas to start a fire. Therefore, it is a must to enhance construction fire safety on the worksites. Let’s have a look at the reasons why there is a higher risk of fire at building sites and get some tips for fire control in construction.
1. Understanding Construction Fire Safety
There is a significant risk of property damage, personal harm, and even death when there are fires on building sites. What is especially prone to fires? Buildings with wood frames, especially those that are light in weight, are swiftly consumed and can soon become a dangerous fire trap.
Wood-framed structures are more likely to fall in the event of a fire, even if steel-framed structures are equally susceptible to fire danger. Few escape routes for employees and even fewer approaches for firemen to access the structure without risk of being trapped result from unfinished walls and stairwells that might fuel flames.
Fires can spread quickly on construction sites because they frequently occur before sprinkler systems and alarms have been installed. A stray spark or a smouldering cigarette can cause catastrophe because there are plentiful supplies of combustible materials all around.
Project managers must be vigilant when monitoring the site and establish safety practices to reduce the possibility of serious, life-threatening fires in order to avert fire losses. To address and reduce fire risks at construction sites, adopt NFPA 241. Let’s examine some typical fire safety issues in the building industry as well as potential solutions.
>> Read more: Problems of Health and Safety in Construction
2. Fire Hazards in Construction
A number of things contribute to the increased danger of fire, including:
- The presence of combustible waste materials
- The use of volatile and explosive compounds, such as gases and liquids
- Work activities such as unfinished electrical systems and hot works operations
- Vandalism, trespassing, and other malicious behaviour
- The unfinished building’s characteristics
- Building materials are frequently flammable, and storing them on the property increases the risk of fire and rescue crews being put in danger as well as the damage that may be done once a fire breaks out.
Therefore, preventing fires must be the first concern while organising and overseeing construction projects. Good news! The risk of fire can be decreased. The straightforward advice we’re about to give you can help stop fires from starting on your properties.
3. Fire Control Measures in Construction
To improve construction fire safety, there is a need to create fire control measures. Here are some tips that help prevent fires starting on your sites.
3.1. No fires
The basic rule of fire prevention is to not start a fire! This is a pretty straightforward idea, but even little fires that are lit to burn off debris from building projects or to keep employees warm can quickly spiral out of control.
Never try to burn trash to get rid of it. Site “bonfires” are prohibited since they can quickly spiral out of control.
3.2. Keep the site clear
Fuel is one of the items a fire needs to start and spread. Many waste items found on construction sites, such as packaging, pallets, and offcuts, provide excellent fire fuel.
Make sure you have a location for waste, and frequently remove trash and waste to the authorised sites. Keep garbage from accumulating around the construction site.
3.3. Plan for waste
It’s one thing to keep your site free of trash, but waste still needs to be disposed of. Plan waste disposal areas with fire and emergency response protocols in place to contain and handle a fire should it start.
Skips and other rubbish containers should ideally be placed far from the site border to lower the chance of arson and far from structures and the storage of combustible materials so that, in the event of a fire, it won’t have easy access to those areas.
>> Read more: Waste Management for Construction
3.4. Safe electrics
Only a qualified electrician should install electrical systems, including temporary supplies, and they must be periodically maintained.
Don’t forget about portable electrical equipment, which is susceptible to damage due to trailing cables and heavy use when working on a construction project. Maintain your PAT testing schedule, and before using any equipment, visually inspect it for flaws or damage.
>> Read more: Electrical safety in construction site
3.5. Check the compound
Because of things like temporary heaters, smoking, irregular occupancy, clothes drying, garbage packaging, old newspapers, etc., site compounds (site offices, welfare facilities, etc.) are prone to fire.
Before leaving the site compound, additional inspections should be conducted.
3.6. Beware of heaters
Working on a construction site may be cold, especially in the winter. When your team has been working outdoors or in a building without a functioning heating system, temporary heaters are crucial for keeping workers warm.
However, temporary heaters must have guards fixed and be properly mounted in a safe location. Heaters must not be covered, abandoned, or placed next to combustible materials.
3.7. Concern about lights!
In particular, powerful floodlights can operate as an ignition source and generate heat as well. But any size of light can be dangerous.
Avoid covering or positioning high-intensity lights next to combustible materials. In order to keep them from toppling over, they must be firmly secured. Handle them as if they were heaters.
3.8. No smoking
Something as straightforward as a discarded cigarette end has the power to unintentionally—rather than intentionally—start many fires.
Smoking should be strictly monitored and restricted to a specific place, either on or off-site. Smoking is not permitted outside of any authorised smoking places or in locations with a high risk of fire. Carefully dispose of matches and cigarette butts.
3.9. Permits for hot works
A major fire hazard is hot work. To ensure that risk is appropriately handled, oversee all hot works through a permit-to-work system. To ensure that the essential checks are conducted before, during, and after the work, hot work permits are given.
Make sure the space is free of combustible materials before beginning heated work. Heat Proof blankets must be used to cover anything that cannot be removed. Never underestimate the distance that sparks and radiant heat can travel.
3.10. Fire checks
After heated labour is accomplished, smouldering materials, hot machinery, and errant sparks can ignite a fire. With fire checks every 30 minutes and up to an hour after the task is finished, hot work must stop at least one hour before the conclusion of the shift.
3.11. Provide extinguishers
This isn’t really a fire prevention tip because if you’re using an extinguisher, the fire will already be burning. However, when used properly, an extinguisher can put out a minor fire and prevent it from escalating into a serious emergency on your property.
Fire extinguishers should always be available on the premises. Make sure you have the appropriate extinguishers for the potential fire classes and that enough employees have received training in how to use them.
3.12. Plan for fire
Create a fire and emergency plan. Ensure that this is covered during the induction process for all site operations so that everyone is aware of what to do.
Make sure everyone is familiar with their role in the fire safety plan, the locations and proper use of extinguishers, the evacuation method and escape routes, and the policies in place to avoid fires.
3.13. Fire focus
At induction, go over fire safety and prevention guidelines. Throughout the project, bring up fires frequently in toolbox discussions. This is crucial if you detect that project-related fire safety requirements are falling. For instance, if waste is accumulating at the location or obstructing exits.
Talking about construction fire safety and prevention on a regular basis will help your team become more aware of the issue and promote adherence to site-specific fire prevention regulations.
>> Related: Practice with questions of Fire Prevention and Control to get deeper knowledge regarding fire safety in the construction industry.