Safety should always be a top priority at construction sites. You have several safety codes, ANSI standards and OSHA regulations that you live by daily. But how much thought have you given to protecting your construction equipment from fire? Sadly, that issue is often neglected until disaster strikes.
When that happens, you not only suffer the damage or loss of your equipment, but there may also be human injury or death. You can implement a Construction Fire Safety plan that includes the proper firefighting equipment along with training on how to use it to help minimize these risks.
Fire Extinguishers – Construction Fire Safety
Fire extinguishers represent the basic core element in any fire safety plan. They give employees a chance to extinguish small fires before they get out of control. There are four basic types of fire extinguishers, and it is vital that employees know which one to use as indicated below:
1. Water fire extinguisher – can be used on paper, wood, rubbish, and textile fires.
2. Carbon dioxide fire extinguisher – can be used on fires involving electrical equipment and flammable liquids commonly found at construction sites.
3. Foam fire extinguisher – can be used on flammable liquids but not on electrical fires.
4. Powder fire extinguisher – can be filled with a variety of powders to cover a wide range of fires, including flammable liquids and electrical fires.
Fire extinguisher testing is required at regular intervals to ensure their correct working condition.
Fire Blankets – Construction Fire Safety
In addition to fire extinguishers, fire blankets can also be used to contain and extinguish small fires. The fire blanket is placed over the fire to smother it. They can also be wrapped around someone if they catch on fire.
Fire Alarm Systems
Fire alarm systems provide excellent fire protection, but a permanent fire alarm system may not be appropriate for a construction site. However, a temporary fire alarm system can be installed that consists of manual alarms and air horns.
The components of a temporary fire alarm system must be strategically placed and easily identifiable. To be effective, employees must be trained on where the temporary fire alarm equipment is located, how to identify alarms, what each alarm means and the appropriate action to be taken following an alarm.
Automated Fire Suppression Systems
The purpose of an automated fire suppression system is to detect and extinguish a fire as soon as it begins. Automated systems can be used in buildings, on equipment and on vehicles. The equipment can be tailored to specific types of construction and even to specific vehicles.
Various suppression agents can be used, including water, dry powder, and chemical agents. Automated systems provide full time protection without the need for commercial power. Here is a description of three types of automated fire suppression systems:
1. Direct Release Systems – Construction Fire Safety
Direct release systems work by installing suppression agent delivery tubes on vehicle engines and pumps. In the event of a fire, the tube nearest the fire ruptures and delivers the suppression agent, thereby extinguishing the fire. Direct release systems can extinguish a fire in 10 seconds or less.
2. Indirect Release Systems
Indirect release systems work in a similar manner as direct but are designed to cover a larger area. They can be installed around equipment and fitted with nozzles so that a fire can be quickly extinguished, and the entire area cooled down. Indirect systems are available with various combinations of suppression agents.
3. Spark Detection Systems
Spark detection systems are designed to detect and extinguish sparks before a fire erupts. They monitor the amount of infrared light emitted by a heat source and can detect levels that indicate a spark or burning ember. Spark detection systems are often used in dry, dusty climates.
Bio: Randall Williams is the founder of Aegis Safe, a fire service company. He specializes in building and fire safety services.