Fires are a significant threat on construction sites.
Fires are a significant hazard on construction sites. A November 2014 National Fire Protection Association report found that between 2007 and 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 5,120 structure fires in residential properties that were either under construction or undergoing major renovation.
Each year, those fires led to an average of nine deaths, 94 injuries and $265 million in direct property damage. Firefighter deaths and injuries are not included in those statistics.
But proper planning and monitoring can improve your chances of completing a project without incident.
Before beginning a construction project:
- Review the construction site, contemplating adjacent exposures that may affect the project
- Look at how accessible the site would be for firefighters and their equipment
- Develop a site-specific fire prevention plan, educating employees about what to do in case of fire
- Establish a Hot Work Permit program that requires operations involving any sparks, open flames or heat-producing activities to follow safety protocols before, during and after work has been completed.
Throughout construction, conduct thorough on-site inspections. Trained representatives of your project management team should inspect the site daily and retain all documentation. Inspections should include:
- Active construction areas
- Material storage areas, including special consideration for flammable items
- Construction trailers and temporary structures
- Site perimeter and adjacent property exposures
- Mobile construction equipment storage areas
- All construction trailers, storage trailers and offices should be made of noncombustible material and be at least 50 feet away from the construction site and at least 30 feet from each other.
- Fire department site access areas must be clearly identified, maintained and unobstructed at all times. Access to fire hydrants or qualified water supplies for firefighting must be readily available whether adjacent to or within the boundaries of the project site.
- Store all combustible materials safely and consider ordering them as needed to minimize the amount on hand. Spontaneous combustion of paint solvents, oily rags and similar materials discarded with trash can lead to a major loss.
- Establish and strictly enforce a no smoking policy throughout the duration of the project.
- Provide fire extinguishers, rated not less than 2A, for each 3,000 square feet of the protected building area. The travel distance from any point of the protected area to the nearest fire extinguisher must not exceed 100 feet per Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. When there are multiple levels, OSHA requires an extinguisher be placed near the staircase on every level.
- Enforce good housekeeping in …read more
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