The LWF Blog

Fire Safety for Facilities Management Personnel – Fire Prevention & Outside Contractors  – Part 107

July 19, 2021 11:52 am

Lawrence Webster Forrest (LWF) is a specialist fire engineering and fire risk management consultancy whose aim is to give information on best practice in fire safety for facilities management personnel through this blog series. In part 106, LWF discussed fire prevention and fire safe kitchen practices, particularly in relation to deep fat fryers and the potential for grease fires. In part 107, we will consider the additional fire risks involved when it is necessary to have outside contractors on site.

The use of outside contractors on site brings with it a much-increased level of fire risk. The activities they are engaged to perform often have their own fire risks – cutting, welding, blowlamps are particular sources of ignition, for instance. In addition to the intrinsic fire risks in using such equipment, individual carelessness must also be factored into the risk profile. Construction sites are a significant fire hazard and, as well as the danger to persons on site at the time of a fire, serious financial losses are often incurred when a building under construction has a fire.

In 1990, a major fire occurred at a 14-storey building, a part of the Broadgate development in London, in the latter stages of its construction. The fire resulted in one of the largest insurance claims in Europe to that point and is believed to have ignited in a subcontractor’s office on site. The Steel Construction Institute produced a report on the fire which concluded that there were more instances of fires starting in temporary accommodation on building sites than is generally thought and that additional and comprehensive guidance on fire precaution measures for construction sites was required urgently.

The potential range of hazards that contractors may introduce to a building, either in the course of their work or as a by-product of their attendance on site include:

  • Flammable liquids – adhesives, paints, thinners, timber preservatives
  • Flammable gases – acetylene, liquefied petroleum gases, for example.
  • Hot work equipment – for cutting, welding and the use of blowlamps.
  • Temporary electrical installations, including temporary lighting
  • Combustible materials – sawdust, wood shavings etc. can work as ‘kindling’
  • Smokers’ materials
  • Potential for arson due to issues with site security
  • Waste disposal – sometimes waste is burned
  • Heating – the use of temporary heating appliances
  • Temporary buildings, partitions and screens of combustible construction
  • Tar boilers

In part 108 of this series, LWF will continue to look at the fire precautions necessary when contractors are on site. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact LWF on freephone 0800 410 1130.

Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings.

While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.

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