Fire Prevention… the HOT Topic This Month

This may sound like a contradiction, but the problem with fire prevention on a construction site is the absence of a problem. Fires do not occur with frequency or regularity and therefore workers are not particularly concerned about them. Another word for this is complacency, an environment in which danger grows and thrives. It is extremely difficult to motivate some one to take an active interest in fire prevention when the person has never been involved in a serious fire and when they face other, imminent hazards on a daily basis. This leads to the common misconception that fire prevention is someone else’s problem.

Almost every construction worker has at one time or another seen someone injured by a fall or being struck by an object. Very few have seen a person burned in a fire, or seen valuable property and months of work reduced to smoke and ashes. Hopefully, they never have to. However, it’s something that all companies need to prepare for, just in case. Some of the best strategies for good fire prevention are ensuring that all staff have been trained in fire safety and that all fire prevention equipment around the construction site have been recently maintained. It’s vital to get dry riser testing done as soon as possible to ensure it will work if there ever is a fire.

Fire Prevention ChecklistWe need to be reminded regularly of the ever-present danger of fire. We need to know the different types of fires and extinguishers. Briefly, electrical or flammable liquid fires require an extinguisher rated BC. Use a water extinguisher only for Class A fires (wood, paper etc.). A dry chemical extinguisher rated ABC is for all classes of fire. Aim at the base of the fire and move the nozzle from side to side in a sweeping motion. If the fire continues, evacuate everyone from the area and call the fire department.

Observe all ‘NO SMOKING’ signs, especially near flammables. Make sure the area is free from all combustibles when burning or welding. Place all construction debris in the proper area for disposal . Know where fire extinguishers are located.

A fire today could mean loss of life, loss of a job, personal injury or property damage. Are you doing your part to prevent one? Check both your job and your home for fire hazards. If you’re still unsure how you will reduce fire risk, it might be a good idea to check out the ISO 45001 OHSMS. They have some fantastic information on the regulations you should be taking advantage of in the workplace to ensure the safety of yourself and others.

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