The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety on construction sites – Part 12

September 28, 2020 12:18 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 11, LWF looked at what provisions should be made for firefighting in buildings under construction. In part 12, LWF will discuss fire detection, fire loads and building separation.

The FPA publication ‘Fire Prevention on Construction Sites’, known as the Joint Code, addresses fire detection on construction sites. The early detection of fire in any environment helps to notify staff of an incident and allows relevant persons the opportunity to prevent fire growth, as well as minimising the losses incurred and the danger to occupants from a larger fire. It also gives those who have not been trained in the use of fire-fighting equipment the opportunity to begin their safe egress from the site.

In a construction site environment, the early detection and notification of a fire provides an opportunity for first-aid firefighting and also for alerting the Fire Service. Building sites by their very nature are a difficult environment in which to have a fire detection and alarm system and so careful consideration of the potential issues and how they can be mitigated should be undertaken to avoid false alarms and developing an early mistrust of the system by those working on the site.

Dust levels on the site are likely to be significantly greater than those in the finished building and so this must be taken into account when choosing detectors. Some detectors have a common base to which a head most appropriate to the environment can be attached.

As well as increased challenges in terms of dust, detection and working methods when considering fire safety on construction sites, there is also the potential for a greatly increased fire load when compared to the finished building.

It is important that the integrity of protected shafts is maintained and the use of materials of low combustibility can reduce the risk of fire spreading over combustible protective cladding, scaffold boards and staging.

Building separation and fire safety must also be considered. The proximity of neighbouring buildings means that fire could spread from the site to a neighbouring building if suitable precautions are not taken during works. Temporary measures to help mitigate the risks include fire resisting partitions, facades and enclosures for combustible materials. Equally, effective management of the site to control the potential for excessive fire load and exposure to any adjoining properties is required.

In part 13, LWF will look at site management and communication. 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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