Fire prevention on construction sites
Nobody expects a construction fire to break out. But should they occur, preparation is vital. From the melting pot of flammable materials on site, to demanding working conditions and non-stop production schedules putting pressure on equipment, having the necessary fire prevention on construction sites in place may be the key to reducing the likelihood of a blaze breaking out in the first place.
Here, we highlight some of the common fire risks on construction sites, with the best site practices to improve fire safety in construction environments.
What are two common fire risks on construction sites ?
Construction sites are complex places, and the fire risks are too - depending on the type of construction, which flammable materials are present, storage practices, and adherence to construction fire safety protocols. That said, the most common fire risks on construction sites have been identified as:
- Electrical equipment. From electrical cabinets to excavators, electrical equipment and machinery used on sites can increase the risk of a construction fire. Risks include short circuits, overloaded circuits, improper use, and faulty wiring - all of which can cause a system to overheat.
- Flammable materials. The presence of large amounts of flammable liquids, such as diesel, oils and hydraulic fluids, coupled with hot manifolds and engine bays, means the risk of a construction fire is ever present. Materials such as debris and even bird nests can come into contact with super-hot components in the engine compartment, causing them to ignite.
Construction site fire prevention checklist
Knowing the common fire risks on construction sites systems is important when it comes to fire prevention on construction sites, ensuring site managers or other responsible person(s) are in a better position to identify hazards and help prevent a fire from occurring in the first place.
Develop a construction site fire safety plan
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, any responsible person(s) has a legal duty to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of (in this case construction) fire and ensure personnel can safely escape the premises in the event of an emergency. These steps are outlined in the HSE’s construction fire safety guidance. This includes assessing the site to note the combustible or flammable materials, potential ignition sources, and people at risk. It should then assess whether precautions already in place - such as escape routes, fire extinguishment or automatic fire suppression systems - are in place or adequate. If not, an action plan is needed to ensure the site, and equipment, is compliant.
Ensure flammable materials are stored safely
Storing combustible or flammable materials in designated areas, away from ignition sources, goes a long way in reducing common fire risks on construction sites. This can be done by segregating combustible and flammable materials, away from ignition sources and with plenty of ventilation, and making sure all materials are handled and disposed according to safety guidelines.
Install fire detection and firefighting equipment
Based on a fire risk assessment, detection equipment such as smoke detectors, heat sensors, and fire alarm systems should be located throughout the construction site facility. Should a fire break out, providing those on site with the appropriate fire extinguishers, fire hoses, and fire blankets, is also a legal requirement. These should be in accessible locations throughout the site, and personnel should also be trained on the proper use of this equipment, and familiar with protocols and escape routes, should an emergency occur.
Protect construction equipment with fire suppression systems
Every second counts in the event of a fire. A fire suppression system can save valuable time both detecting and controlling a fire in its early stages, without human intervention. But not all fire suppression systems are designed and tested to withstand the harsh operating conditions found on construction sites. It’s important to choose a system that meets the highest standards for shock and vibration. Our construction fire suppression systems use electronic Linear Heat Detection (LHD) to provide rapid and reliable fire detection that meets these standards, providing the best protection against false discharges commonly seen in other systems. Not only that, but one that understands the consequences of light and heavy mobile plants being at standstill, and can ensure production-critical equipment is protected against the risk of fire 24/7.
Tighten security measures
Arson is another common fire risk on construction sites - and one that can be mitigated by reducing the chances of unauthorised personnel entering a site. Security features such as CCTV cameras, fencing, alarms, and proper lighting can help deter trespassing and vandalism.
Regular site inspections and maintenance
Regular site inspections can identify and rectify construction fire risks promptly, helping prevent fires from ever occurring in the first place. This includes maintaining equipment, machinery, and electrical systems to prevent malfunctions that could lead to fires. We offer personalised and proactive system servicing, as well as 24/7 support, so construction site operators can focus on business. Daily maintenance checks, such as regular cleaning of machines, as well as inspecting primary ignition points, checking for wear and tear, and tightening loose connections are recommended between inspections.
For fire protection, construction specialists can provide the right solution
We understand the consequences of equipment being at standstill, whether that’s light and heavy mobile plants or electrical equipment such as electrical cabinets, generators, and transformers. With years of experience protecting equipment in both surface and underground construction, we’re also used to working in inaccessible sites, such as tailoring fire suppression systems to help prevent fires in compact, confined spaces.
To learn more about fire safety measures on construction sites, and how Ardent helps construction clients prevent fires, read our case studies, sign up to our newsletter, or get in touch for more information.