The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety on construction sites – Part 11

September 21, 2020 12:54 pm

In LWF’s Fire Engineering blog series for Architects and others involved in building design, we have been looking at those activities of a company which can be classed as fire safety management. In part 10, LWF discussed compartmentation in unfinished building projects, before looking at ventilation and firefighting. In part 11, we continue looking at provisions for firefighting in buildings under construction.

The FPA publication ‘Fire Prevention on Construction Sites’, commonly known as the Joint Code, calls for the installation of a functional sprinkler system as construction work progresses, where such is planned for the finalised building, and emphasises the particular need in the case of timber framed buildings.

Where sprinklers are already installed, any decommissioning must be discussed with the owners and insurers of the building and with the fire authorities.

Where sprinklers are to be installed as a part of the final provision for the building, early installation to help protect the site can be of economic benefit, as well as providing fire protection. Although it is possible that the sprinkler system could be damaged during construction, effective site management can help to avoid this happening. Additional precautions can be taken to help avoid damage to the sprinkler system by them being guarded or by the installation of recessed sprinkler heads where appropriate. It may be necessary to take special precautions if they are to be in exposed conditions during winter as a frozen sprinkler head is not operable.

Temporary alternative valve sets can be provided during construction and replaced at an appropriate time.

Understandably, the idea of providing sprinklers to the relevant standard in a partially-completed building poses issues for the construction industry, but their ability to reduce fire damage during construction is significant and where their installation is required in the finished build, it may be possible to incorporate them at an earlier stage.

The Joint Code also considers the issue of first-aid firefighting on construction sites and while it is acknowledged that the provision of extinguishers, fire blankets and hose reels may be abused by staff, their usefulness outweighs the potential issues.

Most fires start off small and if the staff on site were appropriately trained in the use of first-aid firefighting equipment, it may be that a larger fire can be avoided. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order requires that any staff member (full-time, part-time, voluntary or contractor) who is asked to use first-aid firefighting equipment must receive appropriate training beforehand.

In part 12, LWF will discuss fire detection, fire loads and building separation. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this blog, or wish to discuss your own project with one of our fire engineers, please contact us.

Lawrence Webster Forrest has been working with their clients for over 25 years to produce innovative and exciting building projects. If you would like further information on how LWF and fire strategies could assist you, please contact the LWF office on 0800 410 1130.

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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