The vulnerability of any building in a fire situation is higher during the construction phase when compared to the susceptibility of the building after it has been completed and occupied. This is because the risks and hazards found on a construction site differ both in nature and potential impact from those in a completed building. And, these risks and hazards are occurring at a time when the fire prevention and protection elements that are designed to be part of the completed building are not yet in place.
For these reasons, construction site fire safety includes some unique challenges. However, an understanding of the hazards and their potential risks is the first step towards fire prevention and mitigation.
It is important to comply with applicable regulations related to fire safety planning during construction, and cooperation between all stakeholders in establishing and implementing a plan goes a long way in reducing the potential risk and impacts of a fire on any construction sites. In addition to province-wide regulations, local governments and municipalities can also have specific laws, regulations or requirements that must be followed. The local fire department can be a resource in directing you to these additional regulations or requirements.
Construction site safety has the potential to impact productivity and profitability at any phase of the project. Given that provincial or municipal regulations provide the minimum requirements for construction site fire safety, consideration should also be given to the specific characteristics, objectives and goals of the project, which could provide incentives to exceed the regulated standards for construction site fire safety. It can be prudent to assess and implement various ‘best practices’, based on the specific needs of your site, which can provide an additional level of protection and build a culture of fire safety.
Most construction site fires can be prevented with knowledge, planning and diligence; and, the impact of those fires that might occur can be significantly lessened. Understanding and addressing both the general and specific hazards and risks of a particular construction site requires education and training, as well as preparedness and continued vigilance.
For further information, refer to the following resources:
- “Construction Site Fire Safety: A Guide for Construction of Large Buildings” – by Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research, University of the Fraser Valley for CWC, 2015
- “Construction Site Fire Response: Preventing and Suppressing Fires During Construction of Large Buildings” – by Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research, University of the Fraser Valley, 2015
- “Report on Course of Construction (Fire) Best Practices Guide” – by Technical Risk Services for CWC, 2014
- “Comparison of the Canadian Construction Site Fire Safety Regulations/Guidelines” – by Sereca for CWC, 2014
- Quick Facts – Insurance and Construction Series (CWC, 2005):
- “Fire Safety and Security: A Technical Note on Fire Safety and Security on Construction Sites in British Columbia” – by Wood Works! British Columbia, 2013
- City of Surrey, BC – Construction Fire Safety Plan Bulletin
- Fire Safety During Construction of Five and Six Storey Wood Buildings in Ontario: A Best Practice Guideline – by Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing of Ontario, May 2016
- “Fire Safety and Security: A Technical Note on Fire Safety and Security on Construction Sites in Ontario” – by Wood Works! Ontario, 2013