A construction site has a lot to think about when it comes to safety, sometimes to an overwhelming degree. At the top of the list are fire safety codes and regulations to assure no major injuries or death occur when work is underway.
Which safety codes and regulations should construction site operators adhere to, though? Some practices involved are just common sense. Others are things sometimes overlooked by construction managers.
Take a look at this list of codes and regulations to think about first. Most important of all is considering the use of temporary fire alarms, something helping save lives while also saving money.
What Are Your Fire Emergency Plans?
Out of a long list, working out a safety plan on how you would handle a construction site fire should be your first priority. A plan means working out what your workers would do if a fire suddenly occurred.
A few things to consider immediately when writing out your plan:
- Emergency Exits
- Where to meet safely after a fire occurs.
- Plan out fire drills in advance to make the plan work.
Dealing with emergency exits could become complicated based on construction situations. When working on constructing a building, finding appropriate emergency exits often change. When construction equipment is in the way, the emergency exit plan may need altering based on the particular project.
Always make sure exits are readily available with easy access. Sometimes this means possible fast escape methods if construction workers are working at high elevations when constructing skyscrapers.
Finding a place to meet should always be updated as well. Accounting for your workers is essential so you can meet and assess what happened. The location you choose to meet in after exiting should always be in a safe location away from the construction site. It may require utilizing services of another building nearby to meet in to stay clear of danger.
Working out fire drills beforehand may sound obvious, but the more planning done in advance, the fewer mistakes made when a fire occurs. Plan to hold at least one fire drill every week, including updating procedures on where to meet and exit if a worksite changes.
What Are the Standard Fire Safety Codes?
Be sure to spend time doing some reading on the Construction Fire Safety Coalition website. There, you’ll find comprehensive information about proper fire codes you need to follow. Keep in mind many fire codes and regulations are up to individual U.S. states to adopt or change.
Many fire codes are still available based on national standards. These six are widely used by many construction companies:
- NFPA 5000
- International Building Code
- International Fire Code
- NFPA 41
- NFPA 1620
NFPA 1 comes directly from the National Fire Protection Agency, another site to read carefully. This particular code is fairly standard and has one notable section. In Section 16.1, the code sets up all the details one needs for safeguarding construction operations.
NFPA 5000 deals with building codes in particular. You’ll have to read through 55 chapters here, yet worth all effort to scope out anything you might have missed.
With the International Building Code, you have an international standard set up by the International Code Council. Yes, even international codes are important to read, particularly if assigned overseas for a project. Now in use for 23 years, you’ll find information on construction codes in Chapter 33.
As a companion with the IBC, also read up on the International Fire Code. In Chapter 14, you’ll find everything you need about fire safety in construction sites.
One of the oldest fire codes out there is NFPA 41, now 90 years old. It was designed originally to provide “responsible safety to life and property from fire”. However, it’s had some revision multiple times over the years.
For pre-planning fire information, be sure to read up on NFPA 1620. Pre-incident planning is essential as seen above, though the NFPA site gives you further pointers.
Is It Important to Use Temporary Fire Alarms?
Fire safety planning for your construction site also means deciding on what kind of equipment you might need. Investing in fire alarms should become a major priority. Then again, no doubt the thought of investing in dozens of new fire alarms gives you headaches on the capital spend.
To ease your mind, it’s best to consider thinking about renting those fire alarms. Considering construction sites are only temporary anyway, why invest in expensive alarms that you may not use again in specific work sites?
When using temporary fire alarms, you simply lease the ones you need for your construction site, then return them when done. Many of these are state-of-the-art, including using wireless features.
One of the most popular brands in temporary fire alarms is Ramtech WES3 systems. These go beyond just being wireless devices. They provide various features that all construction worksites need to round out all elements of fire safety.
Some features Ramtech has in their alarms include:
- A medical alert feature to send automatic calls if someone is injured.
- System polling to confirm when you move an alarm system.
- A validation system to ensure it isn’t a false alarm.
- Pre-alarm systems for more level alert customization.
- Test modes for individual alarms.
These also comply to all key fire safety standards across America.
Some Other Fire Regulations to Consider
Investing in the right equipment should also go beyond fire alarms. Always consider buying or leasing fire extinguishers as well. One other thing construction managers don’t often consider in fire safety is investing in surveillance equipment.
Using security cameras can help scope out a fire quicker when working within a large site. These can catch a small fire starting that might otherwise not be noticed until the fire alarms go off.
Removing all combustible materials should additionally become a major focus as part of the pre-planning phase. If they do need to be used on-site, they should always be set aside in safe places and away from anything that might cause an ignition.
Anything potentially producing an open flame should also be considered off-limits. No matter if this and other things mentioned sound typical in fire safety regulations, they can easily slip a manager’s mind when dealing with a mountain of other things.
Visit us at Mobile Video Guard so we can help you establish the best fire safety equipment available for your construction site.