Imagine you’re a construction site owner or manager and you’ve just learned there’s a problem at your construction site. Someone just reported you’ve got smoke billowing overhead, flames licking at piles of expensive lumber, or muffled explosions coming from the direction of the machinery, any of which can be beyond costly for your business.
Fire at construction sites is often devastating in terms of money and time lost. Add in the potential for lives lost and it becomes unthinkable.
Having the right fire and smoke detectors on-site can make a huge difference. Without them, you risk disastrous consequences in your timeline, budget, equipment, supplies, and safety. Even if your project survives the fire, the experience will almost certainly demoralize your construction crew.
Here’s what you need to know about fire and smoke detectors on construction sites, including how to choose the right one and how it can save your resources in the long and short run.
What Is a Construction Site Smoke Detector?
Everyone’s seen residential smoke detectors that can be fastened to walls or ceilings and beep if they sense smoke. Construction site smoke detectors are specially designed for use on sites full of flammable construction materials, meaning they are reliable, rugged, weatherproof, wireless, and operate on long-life batteries that generally last for three years.
A few notes to keep in mind:
- These smoke detectors work best when part of larger, more comprehensive systems.
- Ideally, the system you choose will offer “plug and play” functionality.
- This will give you the flexibility to reconfigure and expand the system as needed.
- It should also be backed by support that includes training, tech, and customer service.
You’ll also need to ensure you’re in regulatory and insurance compliance by installing the correct type and number of fire and smoke detectors, which may require the help of a qualified security professional. There are several types available:
Wireless Fire Alarm Systems
Wireless fire alarm systems are essential for protecting worksites that may be off the grid. The ever-changing needs of a construction project require a rugged fire detection system that can quickly and easily be deployed wherever you need it. Mobile systems let you move them to where they’re needed most, and come in two main types — regular and Ramtec Wes3.
Regular Fire Protection Systems
A regular fire protection system is weatherproof, ruggedly constructed, reliable, and compliant with relevant safety standards. This keeps most sites safe from damage, especially during normal business hours, but can often be ineffective at alerting you to emergency situations that arise after everyone has left your construction site. Fast alerts and responses are crucial to keeping your construction site running smoothly, after all.
Ramtech Wes3 System
This state-of-the-art system offers the same weatherproofed, ruggedly constructed, reliable, and compliant design as a regular fire system, but boasts additional features such as:
- Medical alerts that allow any worker to call for aid from anywhere on the site.
- An inspection delay that allows site managers to quickly validate alarms before evacuating the entire site.
- The ability to perform tests or checks remotely using a smartphone or mobile device.
- An isolation mode that enables you to test individual components without setting off a site-wide alarm.
- Regular system polling that confirms all parts of the system are functioning properly.
- Exceptional data storage capabilities, allowing you to review an event afterward.
- The ability to integrate with other site systems like access control.
Having a robust system to watch over your construction site may cost a little more up front, but the potential savings involved should a fire break out will more than offset such bills. Here’s what you need to know about setting up a temporary smoke and fire detector at your site.
Setting Up Temporary Smoke and Fire Detectors
The difficult thing with construction is that no project lasts forever, which means you don’t need to install permanent rugged smoke and fire detectors on a building. The owner will eventually be installing them in rooms throughout the finished space.
A temporary fire alarm system for construction sites is just the thing to protect your site during construction, even those far from permanent electrical services. Take the following steps to set one up and ensure maximum safety:
- Conduct a materials inventory.
You’ll want to sort your materials according to flammability to keep highly flammable materials from being scattered throughout your worksite — or stored near possible sources of ignition like generators, welders, or other high voltage equipment.
- Survey the worksite to identify the best locations for detectors.
A great fire prevention and CCTV team can create a custom plan that will provide the best possible protection for your site.
- Create a fire plan.
Response speed is often the difference between an “incident” and a complete disaster. Having a comprehensive fire plan in place and making sure everyone knows exactly what to do in a fire emergency is key to preventing that disaster.
- Hold fire drills.
Frequent fire drills will ensure that your fire plan works. Make sure you update your plan as worksite conditions change.
- Pay attention to scope.
Be prepared to increase the size of your fire prevention system as your project grows.
Renting a temporary smoke and fire detection system for your construction site has several advantages, including allowing you to have a comprehensive, state-of-the-art system without requiring a large investment. Each rental system is set up according to your site’s particular needs and can be adjusted as those needs change.
Other Tips for Construction Site Fire Protection
There are other steps you can take to help prevent fire on construction sites. Follow these handy tips and tricks to keep a potential construction site fire at bay.
- Store flammable materials away from heat and high voltage equipment.
- Install fire sensors and fire extinguishers near the storage area.
- Minimize flames by using only induction burners, microwaves, and space heaters with tip-over shutoffs.
- Dispose of scrap materials off-site.
- Provide ample, well-placed emergency exits and make sure everyone knows where they are.
- Practice, practice, and practice some more! A great fire emergency plan is worthless unless everyone on-site knows how it works. Regular drills will ensure they do.
One of the most important steps you can take is working with a security team that can remotely monitor your construction site with CCTV. They will spot a fire in its earliest stages and alert the fire department immediately, plus be on the lookout for arsonists, vandals, trespassers, and thieves to protect against these common instigators of fires.
Remote surveillance monitoring is crucial in keeping your worksite safe, as it aids in early detection, makes sure your evacuation routes are clear and accessible, and provides video proof of what happened when filing incident reports.
Let Us Help Keep a Construction Site Fire at Bay
When you’re looking for protection for your construction site, the team at Mobile Video Guard is here to help. We’re happy to help you learn more about special smoke and fire detectors or to answer any other questions about site security. Contact us today to get started.