Fire Risk Assessment: Part 2

This is part 2 of the series on fire risk assessment where we will be identifying the various sources of ignition, the sources of fuel and oxygen.

Identifying the Ignition Sources

Identify all possible sources of ignition before or during the construction process on the worksite. You can do this by locating the possible heat sources that can get hot enough to ignite the material present on the premises. The sources of ignition can include:

  • Cigarettes, lighters, matches
  • Naked flame sources i.e. open-flame equipment fuelled by liquid or gas
  • Fuel and vehicle exhaust
  • Faulty electrical equipment
  • Poorly installed electrical fixtures causing overloads or heating due to damaged wires
  • Work that generates heat, for example, welding
  • Lighting equipment and light fittings, for example, halogen lamps placed too close to stored materials, temporary lighting
  • Electrical, oil-filled or gas heaters, room heaters in temporary cabins, accommodations or offices
  • Other heat sources such as electric or gas cooking equipment, microwaves, etc.
  • Static charge generated by use of mechanical equipment
  • Heat generated due to friction from equipment like disc cutters, etc.
  • Oxy-fuel equipment
  • Self-heating or spontaneous combustion materials such as rags soaked in oil, paint scrapings, etc.
  • Refracted sunlight
  • Bonfires
  • Lightning

Identifying Sources of Fuel

Any material that can burn can be considered as fuel for a fire. During the process of construction, many materials that are used on the site can burn. By reducing the material stored on the worksite, you can limit the chances of a fire.  Limit the material required on the worksite to maybe a single shift or half a day and return the unused materials to the store. When you are making use of flammable or combustible materials, try to select the least combustible ones.

Some common fuels found on worksites include:

  • Components of the building structure or stored products such as wooden panels, timber, etc.
  • Combustible liquids like varnishes, paints, etc.
  • Scaffold sheets and other protective coverings
  • Volatile substances that are flammable such as thinners, paints, etc.
  • LPG or liquefied petroleum gas for boilers, temporary accommodations, kitchens, etc.
  • Fuel used in portable equipment
  • Packaging materials
  • Acetylene
  • Petrol-fuelled disc cutters and other portable equipment

Identifying Sources of Oxygen

The air around us is the main source of oxygen that fuels any fire. On any construction site, there is natural airflow through openings, doors and windows. The wind can also result in increased oxygen flow that feeds the fire. In addition to the natural oxygen present, there can be other sources of oxygen on any construction site such as material stored or used such as oxidising agents that help the fire to burn further. Such chemicals should have clear identification, and safe use and storage instructions.

Some sources of oxygen:

  • Oxidising agents
  • Oxygen for the process of welding

These are very critical steps of fire risk assessment on a construction site. By identifying the sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen you can reduce the chances of a fire outbreak that can be quite devastating not only to lives of the workers on the premises but to the material stored on the site as well as to the property itself.

By installing a Cygnus fire alarm system on your construction site, you can ensure that your worksite is completely safe and secure. The top-quality range of Cygnus fire protection equipment indeed redefines the way by which you can safeguard your work premises.