Fire Risk Assessment: Part 1

A fire outbreak can be quite devastating. Not only can fires kill, they can cause grievous injury and also financial loss. The dangers of fire are of concern on construction sites where many activities can be high-risk. A fire can start and spread very quickly and may become very difficult to contain, causing loss of life and assets.

In this series we provide you with a general guidance on how you can prevent fires from starting and in the case of a fire-related emergency what should be done to ensure the safety of the people. These instructions are applicable to all construction projects, be it large or small and is aimed at developing and applying safety standards at the worksite.

There must be a comprehensive risk assessment carried out by a responsible person appointed by the company. The responsible person can be the employer, the owner or any person who has control of the worksite.

The fire assessment should be based on the following steps:

  • Step 1: Identifying the threats
  • Step 2: Identifying the people at risk
  • Step 3: Evaluating, removing, reducing and protecting from risk
  • Step 4: Recording, planning, informing, instructing and training
  • Step 5: Reviewing

Step 1: Identifying the Threats

There are some basic steps to be followed while doing a risk assessment. Criteria to be considered for new premises will be different when compared to existing buildings.

In the case of a new building or construction site, the location of the site, its proximity to other buildings or construction sites and types of construction methods and materials that will be utilized must be assessed. Whereas, completed structures have established fire protection rules as stipulated by Building Regulations.

You must keep in mind that during the process of construction and before the fire protection system is in place finally, the construction site is the most at risk. The structure and the materials used for the construction may increase the vulnerability to fire. For example, a timber framed structure is more susceptible to a fire outbreak and this must be taken into consideration during the design process.

In the case of a restoration project, you must take into consideration other factors such as the construction and age of the premises. For example, the building can have a heavy fire load due to board and plaster walls and ceilings, wooden floors and panelling. Changes in the fabric of the building may have a consequence in case of a fire.

Sources of Fire

Fuel, a cause of ignition and oxygen, all the three elements are required to start a fire. Even if one of these three is absent, a fire cannot begin. You must take adequate measures to avoid all these three sources occurring together and reducing the instance of fire.

In the second part of the series, we will discuss how to identify the potential sources of ignition, materials that may act as fuel in starting a fire and oxygen supplies that will help the fire to burn.

Cygnus fire alarm systems can play a very important role in protecting and preventing the occurrence of a fire on your construction site. These systems can effectively warn you in case of a fire outbreak and help you to contain the fire before any major damage occurs. Cygnus products are well-known for their reliability and today the word Cygnus is synonymous with the word “safety”.