The Importance of Fire Safety on Construction Sites

Posted on: July 22, 2017

Learn about the very real fire risks that exist at construction sites

Fire safety should be a concern for all businesses, but it is especially important at construction sites. Buildings under construction can often be more at risk to fire. Workers may have chemicals on site that are combustible and wind can frequently be present around unfinished buildings, which can quickly cause a blaze to spread. It’s critical that construction companies take the proper precautions to protect their employees as well as the areas where they are working from a fire.

Common causes of construction fires

Fires can start from any number of sources on a construction site, from a lightning strike to arson, and many of them can be difficult to contain.

A common problem at construction sites stems from frayed extension cords that can start a fire, which can quickly spread to the variety of unfinished, flammable materials on site. Construction companies that are renovating older homes should be especially worried about the risk of fire, due to inferior building codes and materials. For example, older buildings often do not have adequate fire walls between floors, as well as the gaps around plumbing and electrical infrastructure to protect buildings from the spread of fire.

While adequate fire protection is common among finished, new buildings of all sizes, it’s critical to design systems with the current building stages in mind. What is appropriate for a construction site in terms of fire protection likely will not be appropriate for a finished structure.

NFPA study looks at fires at under construction residential properties

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) conducted a five-year-long study related to fires in residential properties (excluding one and two-unit properties) that were under construction or being renovated. This study, concluded in 2014, found an estimated 830 construction fires that resulted in 12 civilian and 70 fire fighter-related injuries and $56 million in annual property damage. Additionally, the report found that there were 400 renovation fires, resulting in one fatality, 8 civilian, and 60 firefighter injuries, which caused $17 million in annual property damage.

How to reduce the risks associated with construction fires

There are a number of ways that construction companies can help to mitigate risk, including:

1. Have sufficient fire extinguishers on hand – Construction sites should have adequate fire extinguishers on hand in accordance with NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations.

2. Beware of all hazards – Construction companies must regularly inspect work sites as a project moves along to ensure safety standards. Employers must always make sure they are abiding by standards laid out by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

3. Ensure there are sufficient fire exits – During construction, workers must have adequate fire exits. If multiple exits converge into one area or hallway, this could pose a problem.

4. Reduce the amount of waste – Keep the amount of waste on a construction site to a bare minimum to reduce the amount of combustible materials.

5. Provide adequate fire training for employees – All employees should be aware of the risks related to construction fires. Regular fire training can help to keep workers informed and prepared in the event of a fire.

Contact LifeSafety Management to learn more about fire safety

If you’re interested in learning more about fire safety and how to prevent or contain fires on a construction site, feel free to reach out to LifeSafety Management today at (800) 330-1158 or through our contact form.