Enhancing fire protection standards on construction sites

It is a tragic reality that fires can, and do, cause long-term injuries, financial loss and even fatalities. Construction sites are high-risk environments where fires can spread quickly. Both small and large construction projects must ensure that fire safety needs are managed from the earliest stages in order to protect workers and the public.

How can improved fire protection standards be implemented on construction sites?

Conduct a fire risk assessment

The law requires a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to be carried out onsite by a responsible person. Your fire risk assessment should consist of the following steps:

  • Identify the hazards – There are varying hazards when considering the construction of a new build compared to the refurbishment of an older building, meaning every site presents different hazards. Sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen must be identified in order to prevent a fire from starting.
  • Identify the people at risk – You must be aware of those working onsite, as well as members of the public, with a particular focus on those who may be especially at risk; such as workers that are isolated e.g. working on cranes, and those that work alone onsite, e.g. security staff.
  • Evaluate, remove, reduce and protect – Reduce the risk of a fire occurring and the danger to people onsite by assessing the ways in which a fire usually starts and removing them. This can include; substituting materials with something less flammable, not keeping flammable solids, liquids and gases together, and keeping windows and doors closed outside of working hours.
  • Record, plan, inform, instruct and train – Record the significant findings from the risk assessment, and note what has been done to remove or reduce the risk. An emergency plan can then be pulled together based on the outcome of the risk assessment.
  • Review– Monitor how effectively the fire risk on your site is being controlled. Due to the changing nature of construction sites, it’s important that if changes onsite introduce new hazards, a new risk assessment is carried out.

Take fire precautions – It is vital that the necessary precautions are in place onsite to ensure that everyone can get to safety in the event of a fire. Provisions must be made to ensure that any replacement routes are identified in advance.

Invest in a reliable fire alarm system – Fire alarms are an essential requirement to ensure that people onsite are alerted before a fire becomes life-threatening. The alarm signal must be clearly audible and recognised across the site. The Cygnus Wireless Alarm System can operate in a maximum of 15 zones with up to 32 devices per zone and is capable of controlling all zones from a control panel. In the case of a real alarm, the message is communicated to every device throughout the site, providing maximum protection in an emergency.

Ensure fire extinguishers are accessible – There are a range of different fire extinguishers each suited to fight different types of fires. At Bull, we stock more than 50 regulation-compliant fire extinguishers and offer a free site survey to ensure that the correct fire extinguishers are installed.

Identify emergency procedures – A clearly labelled fire escape route and assembly point are both vital in ensuring that anyone onsite knows how to exit the site safely and quickly. Our range of signage will ensure that your site is adequately signposted.

For a full site survey and assessment of your fire safety needs, give our team a call on 01432 371170 or email us.