How Your Contracting Business Can Prevent Fires
Fires at construction sites cost hundreds of millions of dollars in damage each year. This industry is at a higher risk for fires with a greater likelihood of major losses. Fortunately, there are many methods you can use to minimize the chance of causing a fire, and protect yourself and your investment. Consider these common guidelines in your safety analysis of every job site and your own workspace.
Keep the Space Clear of Debris
Imagine your team working on a project inside a partially-constructed building. A fire breaks out. As you turn to flee, you realize that the only exit is blocked by a pile of debris that you planned to haul out at the end of the day. This kind of simple oversight can cause untold damage and even fatalities. Stacks of materials not only prevent you from getting out, they can also help to spread the fire. Instead, you can designate a few safe places on the site to put garbage for disposal, and make sure everyone adheres to it every time.
Secure the Site When Closing
When you close up for the day, you want to make sure that the site is safe from unwanted visitors. Construction sites tend to be a popular target for arsonists. This is because uncompleted buildings tend to lack certain fire safety protections that exist in completed structures, and also that they are typically uninhabited property. Consider installing fencing around the project with gates that lock, and using an identification system for anyone who enters or leaves the property.
Use Proper Safety Procedures
Fire doesn’t have to be burning out of control in order to cause problems. Sometimes, people increase their risk just by failing to correct obvious issues. Train employees to identify possible hazards, such as:
- faulty or exposed wiring
- improper ventilation
- flammable materials near heat sources
Everyone should wear protective safety gear whenever necessary, appropriate to the job. People who will be working with flammable liquids or heat should be trained in the best practices to avoid injury.
Take Care With Heat Sources
Heat sources are the most common cause of fires in the home, so it’s unsurprising that this happens at the construction site, too. Even if you are quite practiced and careful using equipment in a welding capacity, there are other dangers lurking in the building. For example, a propane-powered heater could fill a closed structure with toxic carbon monoxide if the space is not properly ventilated. Even an electric heater could wreak havoc if left unattended. Electric space heaters can spark a fire if they are knocked over or placed too close to flammable clothing, oily rags or wood.
Create a Fire Management Plan
Despite your best prevention efforts, there is still a chance that you will have to combat a fire at some point. Design a plan to get everyone out safely and call for emergency assistance. Take note of all possible exits, and update your list as the site changes during the project. Place fire extinguishers in various places and make sure everyone knows how to use them correctly. Don’t rely on fire prevention resources commonly found in completed buildings (e.g. fire sprinklers), as a partial structure may not have them yet. Perform periodic fire safety drills to confirm that everyone can follow the plan and get to a designated spot as quickly as possible. If you’re working in an area with limited coverage, research your options for making an emergency phone call.
Fire on the construction site is never something you want to happen without a plan in place. Preparing in advance could help you save lives and stop a lot of damage. If you’re ready to start building your contracting career, contact CSLS today!