With so many flammable materials and sources of sparks and heat in one place, a construction site can become a disaster waiting to happen unless you take steps to secure it. A few basic protective measures can prevent a fire from starting in the first place and limit its spread if a blaze does start. Use these five tips to so you don't lose your team's hard work and potentially damage the homes and businesses around the work site.
Live Fire Monitoring
For the fastest response in case a fire starts up, you need live monitoring for the alarms you install. Automatic alarms can go off at random times due to smoke generated by other sources, but live monitoring ensures that false alarms don't waste the resources of the local fire department. For maximum security, it's best to combine alarms that respond to smoke or heat with video cameras to give the monitoring company a chance to visually check for signs of fire. These video-monitoring services also help you deal with theft and vandalism, so you'll get the biggest benefits for your investment with wired or wireless cameras.
There should be a manager or employee designated as the fire-safety supervisor at all times when work is going on at the job site. The fire-safety supervisor is responsible for following the site's safety plan by checking that there are no safety violations each day as the work goes on. The responsibilities of this supervisor should include:
- Checking and replacing fire-safety equipment like alarms and extinguishers
- Supervising any hot work that generates heat or involves sparks, such as welding
- Keeping flammable materials, like fuel, separated from combustible materials, such as stacked lumber
- Leading the evacuation in case of a fire during working hours and relaying essential information to the emergency responders
Taking the time to remove combustible building materials from the building itself every evening adds extra work to the day, but it's a worthwhile practice because it can prevent a fire or at least keep it from spreading. Aside from relocating wood, carpeting, and other materials out of the structure, make sure to designate a separate storage area for flammable liquids like propane and gasoline. This storage area should be far away from the containers holding combustible materials and properly marked with "no smoking" and "no spark" signs. Make sure to keep a fire extinguisher close to this storage space as well, since it's one of the most likely areas to have a construction-site fire.
One of the most overlooked causes of fire on the job site is hot exhaust from a vehicle, generator, or other piece of heavy equipment. When the heat of the exhaust is vented directly onto a combustible piece of material like a sheet of plywood or a canvas drop cloth, it doesn't take long for fire to break out. Arrange exhaust ports for equipment so that they vent to open air and not onto any surface, even if you verify that the surface is made of a non-combustible material. Arrange for vehicle parking, even when loading and unloading, away from stored materials and work areas.
Finally, reach out to the local fire department before starting work on the construction site and give them all the pertinent details, such as the precise location of the site and its scale. A fire in a half-finished 20-story building needs a different approach than a blaze in a single-story structure that is barely framed in. Keeping the department up to date on the details of construction ensures they're always ready to respond properly if they get a call from your fire-monitoring company, perhaps Fyr Fyter Inc.