Construction sites are very temporary establishments, where materials are being constantly brought in for use, stacked in temporary structures and quite often laid out in the open. That is why a construction site will be full of signs warning of danger and requiring visitors and workers to exercise a lot of caution. It is important that a fire risk assessment be carried out to access the risks of fire.
Fire is a very prevalent danger in construction, and most project managers on a construction site take a lot of precautions to prevent fires and have measures in place that can fight these fires, in case they do occur. A good project management team will have in place a fire protection plan, which establishes the action to be taken by workers and staff in case of fires. These plans are given a lot of prominence and any new entrant to a construction site will be made aware of this plan, so that he or she knows what is expected of them in case of fires. These plans must include evacuation procedures, fire control equipment and communication.
Fire safety becomes all the more necessary on construction sites, because most accesses vertical or horizontal to the various levels of a building are always temporary and will keep changing as the work progresses. That is why as a matter of safety, exits and accesses need to be very clearly marked. It is very essential that construction sites have the proper fire safety equipment installed, and a good project team, will ensure that these are always tested and remain in good working condition, and have enough personnel with the complete knowledge of how to use the equipment. Extinguishers have to be constantly replenished, hoses and pumps maintained, a dedicated source of water always topped up, and alarm systems constantly tested. It is not uncommon on major sites to have periodic fire drills executed, so that the familiarity with the equipment is never lost.
The transient nature of construction leads to areas undergoing frequent changes in the environment and creation of potential hazards. It is important that these are frequently reviewed and all concerned personnel kept aware of these changes. Hazards can come from smoking, welding and other equipment, electrical equipment and vehicles. Construction sites will also always have combustible materials like flammable gases and liquids, a lot of oil and other petroleum products, scaffolding and formwork of wood, and in some cases, explosives. Major construction sites will have safety and fire protection engineers whose duties will require them to constantly monitor conditions and
ensure that there would be fewer chances of fires.
It is very important that documents important to the construction site are kept in well protected areas, so that any fires do not disrupt further work. All activities on the site must be constantly monitored to ensure that they in no way add to the potential of fire. This is especially important in sites where a lot of welding or other structural work is undertaken, which can lead to fires being started from sparks. Any use of open flames, at times needed in construction activities, must be undertaken only after all safety and fire prevention methods are in place.
Once a fire does occur, alarms must be set off, and all personnel evacuated to safer places. The fire department of the city must be informed, even in cases, where abatement procedures are already undertaken. The cause of the fire, the damage caused by it, must be documented and safety engineers must examine, whether the fire has been caused because of safety instructions not being followed. Extinguishers and other means to quench fires must always be present at any work site where heating or fire causing events do take place. Combustible materials must always be stored separately and isolated, so that in case of fires, they do not add to the destruction.
Construction sites are always known as dangerous areas, and places that can be prone to accidents, because of the temporary nature of the work, and constant changes in environments. Fires require three elements to occur and these are fuel, heat and air or oxygen. Every personnel must keep this in mind and ensure that in every activity they ensure that all these three elements do not come together, and where they do, sufficient deterrents or equipment are in place to control the fire in case it does occur.