Fire Risk Assessment: Part 4

We understood the importance of taking care of the safety of all the people that are present on your worksite in case of a fire in the previous article in this series. In this piece, we’re going to take look at “evaluating, removing, reducing and protecting from the risk” of fire.

Step 3: Evaluating, Removing, Reducing and Protecting from Risk

In this step, you must reduce the risks, which can be done in two ways- by reducing the risk of occurrence of fire and reducing the risk to people in case of a fire outbreak.

Reducing the Risk of a Fire Outbreak

You may need to work with the owners of buildings or managers in order to reduce the hazard of a fire outbreak on the premises. Fires usually happen due to one of the three reasons:

  • Accidentally: When burning materials such as burning cigarettes are not put out or when there are lights placed too close to combustible material.
  • By the Act of Omission: Improper maintenance of electrical equipment, by accumulating flammable materials near a heat source or by storing LPG near some heat source or an electric fire.
  • Deliberately: For instance, arson attacks.

You must try and locate any accidents or acts that may cause a fire to start on the work premises. You must attempt to remove any hazards or at least take steps to reduce them to an acceptable level. This must be done during the planning process before the construction work actually begins.

For example, in a densely built-up area where the risk to neighbouring properties is high, you can change from a timber frame construction to one with a lower fire risk. Installation of fire detection and fire suppression systems will also help to mitigate the risk of fire. Take care to remove the sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen which are the main cause of any fire outbreak.

Reducing the Hazard to People in Eventuality of a Fire Outbreak

Now that the hazard of fire has been reduced, you must look at methods by which you can protect the people in case of a fire breakout. In order to assess the risk to your people on the construction site, you must understand the ways in which a fire can spread. Fire can spread in 3 ways- convection, conduction and radiation. In this part of the series we’ll look at the first way a fire can spread, convection.

Convection: This method of fire spread is the most hazardous and causes a majority of deaths and injuries. When a fire breaks out in an enclosed space like buildings, the smoke produced by the fire gets trapped because of the presence of a ceiling and spreads everywhere forming a thick layer. The smoke seeps through any gaps or holes in the ceiling, walls, and floor and then spreads to various parts of the building. The fire produces heat that gets trapped and the temperature rises causing deaths.

We covered a significant part of step 3 in our fire risk assessment series, understood a lot about how you can reduce the risk of occurrence of a fire outbreak and also a quick look at reducing the hazard to people in the eventuality of a fire breaking out.