The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire safety on construction sites – Part 4

August 3, 2020 12:30 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 3, we looked at what equipment and information should be provided within a fire control centre, commonly seen in a large or complex building. In part 4, we begin to discuss fire safety on construction sites.

In 2015, the 9th version of the document Fire Prevention on Construction Sites – Joint Code of Practice was published. The paper was originally produced in response to a handful of large-scale construction fires in the UK since 1990. The fires are estimated to have incurred losses of around £388 million.

The HSE also published a document, Fire Safety in Construction, in 2010. As the HSE has powers over fire precautions on construction sites, the information given about managing fire safety during construction and detailing the responsibilities involved is especially pertinent.

In order to gain insurance, it may be necessary to apply either approach. It should be noted that fatalities are extremely rare in construction site fires and therefore, the capacity for financial loss is the driver in much of the guidance.

The objectives of fire precautions on a site are relatively simple and clear:

Maintain the status of no fatalities due to construction fires
Reduce the number of site fires
Reduce losses incurred from site fires
Reduce insurance claims

A secondary consideration is that the construction process itself should not be made any more onerous than necessary due to fire safety and fire prevention measures. Where fire safety practices are seen as limiting the work undertaken on the site or causing significant delays, it is possible they will be ignored.

Therefore, the final objective is to ensure site fire precautions are included in the most unobtrusive way to that they become effective in line with the potential risk. It’s important to accept that fire safety during construction, when the fire risk is highest, should be at least as effective as it will be once the building is finished.

Fire risk assessment of a construction site should be undertaken to satisfy the requirements of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 in England and Wales, and equivalents in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In part 5, LWF will discuss the implications of site fires and look at what legislation applies. 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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