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With the rising cost of property, skyscrapers are familiar sights sprouting out of a city skyline. There are currently 137 functional buildings taller than 100m in the UK, and that number is only going to climb.
The increasing construction of high-rise buildings emphasises the importance of fire safety on these building sites. Here’s an easy guide, breaking down the relevant legislation and providing solutions.
Legal Fire Safety Requirements On Construction Sites
Two primary pieces of UK legislation regulate fire safety on construction sites: the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and the Regulatory Reform Act 2005. The Construction Regulations state that ‘suitable and sufficient’ fire detection and fire-fighting equipment must be installed on sites in appropriate places. You should routinely test and maintain this equipment, and train each frequently present person on the site to respond to emergencies and use the fire-fighting equipment.
The Regulatory Reform Act 2005 defines who is responsible for implementing precautions. This individual is deemed a ‘responsible person’ and must complete a fire safety risk assessment and manage the site’s safety procedures.
The HSG 168 Fire Safety Guidance for Construction sites is a crucial resource. It breaks down the differences between fire risks and hazards and provides examples often found on sites. It also advises on mitigating the risks they pose and keeping people safe.
Potential Fire Hazards
For a fire to start, it requires ignition, fuel and oxygen. Unfortunately, these three elements are often found together on construction sites. Identifying which hazards could cause each of the ingredients helps you prevent them.
Ignition hazards risk producing heat or sparks that could light fuel and create a fire. These hazards include electrical faults, hot working, smoking, arson, temporary lighting, portable heaters and lightning.
You should ensure that ignition hazards are placed in areas that are clear of flammable materials and are monitored at all times. This warning is crucial for hot working, which includes any process that generates heat.
Fuel hazards are items that could fuel a fire. These items could be flammable materials such as cotton, flammable liquids or gases like petrol, scaffolding, coverings, and waste.
Fuel materials must be stored correctly, with a 6-10m gap between them to prevent potential fires from spreading. They should also be kept away from any ignition hazards. Finally, your site should have a Waste Management Plan to ensure that waste is disposed of correctly.
You can implement many different fire prevention measures on your construction site, and you have a legal obligation to have some of them in place. Combining a range of approaches will cover all bases.
Fire Safety Risk Assessment – A fire safety risk assessment identifies the hazards onsite, those affected, the severity and likelihood and steps that mitigate the risks. The Regulatory Reform Act requires an assessment to be conducted by a competent person with appropriate knowledge and training. It is the first step to implementing a fire safety system on your site.
Evacuation Routes And Fire Exits – You need to ensure that there are means of escape available so people can reach a place of safety in the event of a fire. You should look to make evacuation possible in two directions. Escape routes must be protected and clear of any obstacles or high-risk items like electrical equipment.
Training – Anyone on the site needs to know the posed risks and how to avoid them. Training should be conducted regularly and updated whenever a new hazard is identified.
Evacuation Trials – You can prepare for an emergency by practising site evacuations. Ensure that everyone knows how to act, where their nearest escape route is, where the fire assembly point is and how to help others. These trials are crucial parts of fire safety training.
Monitoring And Testing – Faults in devices can cause electrical fires, so you must test them. All portable electrical devices should be PAT tested regularly and stored correctly to keep them safe.
Designating Spaces – Designating spaces for activities like hot working and storage helps separate ignition and fuel hazards to lower fire risks. These spaces could include a smoking area for workers.
Fire Safety Equipment – UK legislation requires every site to have fire detection and fire-fighting equipment. These devices should be examined and tested regularly to ensure they will be effective in an emergency.
You should have an appropriate range of fire extinguishers to counter each type of fire, as, for example, using a water fire extinguisher on an electrical fire is very dangerous.
- Water Extinguishers handle Class A fires
- Foam Extinguishers handle Class A and B fires
- Power Extinguishers handle Class ABC fires
- CO2 Extinguishers handle electrical and Class B fires
- Wet Chemical Extinguishers handle Class F fires.
Using your fire safety risk assessment, audit the likely types of fires on your site, then match your extinguisher choice appropriately.
Wireless alarms have revolutionised the world of fire detection. They use a system of smoke and heat detectors, call points, sounders and strobes connected with radio signals to raise the alarm in an emergency. This wireless connectivity has had several benefits.
How Wireless Alarms Benefit Construction Site
Wireless alarm systems have provided the flexibility to install fire alarms anywhere. The devices’ long-lasting lithium batteries mean they are not reliant on mains power and keep running during a power cut. They can be installed and maintained without construction and can even be used with existing hard-wired alarm systems, allowing you to add new devices and expand as your site grows.
As they are not installed permanently, wireless alarms are reusable and reconfigurable. You can take them from one site to another, so you don’t need to buy a new system for each project you take on.
Our Wireless Fire Alarms
At Evacuator Alarms, we have a range of wireless detectors and alarms to fit your fire safety needs for your construction site. We can supply smoke and heat detectors, strobes, sounders and many other items like fire-fighting equipment and safety signs so you can prepare your construction site for anything.
We have over twenty years of experience supplying products to businesses across the UK and Europe. Speak to our experts today for a breakdown of your requirements and a solution that works for you.