The LWF Blog

Fire Engineering Design and Risk Assessment – Fire Safety on construction sites – Part 8

September 1, 2020 12:41 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 7, LWF looked at the criteria for fire precautions during construction, in Part 8, we discuss how the building’s designers should approach their own responsibility towards fire safety.

The Health and Safety Executive produced their own guidance, Fire Safety in Construction (PDF) which, while laying out the responsibilities of all parties associated with a construction site, is mainly targeted towards the design team.

When designers are choosing materials for use, storage and construction on the site, they should be aware of the fire performance. It may be that after consideration, the use of hazardous materials or processes may not be appropriate if better or safer alternatives are possible. It may be necessary to put suitable procedures into place to manage the use of more hazardous materials if they are deemed necessary.

Any potential for reducing the risk of fire should be taken, including assessment of the necessity for hot work. It may be possible to avoid or reduce the need for welding by using bolted rather than welded steel sections and through the use of off-site fabrication. In this same mode of thinking, it may be possible to use push or threaded-fit plumbing rather than brazed jointing.

Where possible, fire safety facilities to be provided as part of the finished building can be installed in the early stages of construction in order to provide fire protection during the construction phase.

The following may be considered useful if they can be installed during construction phase:

Wet or dry fire mains for firefighting purposes, along with access to the inlets and for personnel and vehicles to the site itself would be most useful to the Fire Service in case of a fire at the site.

Compartmentation required for the finished building should be introduced early, where possible, to help limit the spread of fire from one area to another.

Escape and firefighting stairs will allow for safer escape in case of fire, firefighting access and assist in site circulation.

Fire doors, where they are installed, they are effective at controlling the spread of fire and smoke and can help protect escape and firefighting stairs.

Fire Alarm Systems can offer great benefits during construction, but only if they are suitable to cope with the dust generated by the works.

In part 9, LWF will discuss emergency procedures, temporary accommodation and other elements which designers should consider in terms of fire safety on construction sites. 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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