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What are the Types of Fire Hazards on a Construction Site?

What are the types of fire hazards on a construction site?

Construction fire safety is critical. With fire and rescue teams being called to 67,389 primary fires in the year ending September 2022 (An increase of 9% from 2021) it is now more important than ever to make sure you are following the correct fire safety legislation. 

(*2022 latest) Update to Fire Safety Regulations on construction sites 

*As of January 2023 the Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 came into force, this means that any CDM duty holders must coordinate and co-operate on fire safety precautions with the responsible person(s) when construction work is taking place on an occupied high-rise residential building

Why the increase in construction fires? 

The question we should be asking ourselves is: what is the reason for the sudden increase in construction site fires? It's clear that fire prevention measures haven’t been mastered by everybody. And one of the leading industries causing fires is construction.

The answer is that it’s due to a lack of knowledge on how to properly prevent fires on a construction site.

The fire triangle, what causes a construction fire?

Three components are needed to start a fire: oxygen, heat and fuel; all of which are easy to find on a construction site. But what fire hazards should you be looking out for when on a construction site?

Types of ignition sources on a construction site

Ignition sources (or “heat” in the fire triangle) can come from a variety of places on a construction site. When an ignition source finds its way near a fuel source - well it’s probably not going to be good news.

Examples of ignition sources:

A few examples of these areas of immense heat are:

  • Lighting (Hot lighting and Halogen lights)
  • Machinery & Tools (Grinding, Welding, Faulty Electrical Equipment)
  • Heaters
  • Naked Flames
  • Cigarettes and Lighters

Types of fuel sources found in construction sites

Fuel sources are arguably even less rare on a construction site. There are a lot of materials used in the process of constructing buildings and objects, but here is a list of the ones you should keep away from ignition sources:

Examples of fuel sources:

  • Rubbish
  • Packaging Materials
  • Volatile Substances (Paints and Thinners)
  • Components of the structure itself (Timber and Composite Panels)
  • Fuel-Operated Machinery

Types of oxygen sources

Typically, the oxygen that causes fires is from the natural airflow. There’s not much you can do about this, so it’s best to focus on removing one of the other elements needed to create a fire (again, referring to the fire triangle). However, air conditioning and oxidising chemicals are some other possible sources of oxygen.

How to prevent fire spreading on construction sites

With construction being one of the most dangerous industries to work in terms of fire risks, it’s important that your staff and employees know how to take appropriate action for preventing the spread of a fire on a construction site. 

There are a few things you can do to make sure that your business will be ready to face a fire head-on. 

Choosing an appropriate fire extinguisher

It’s crucial that you have the correct fire safety products on site, and fire extinguishers are the weapon of choice for smiting small fires on a construction site.

The following fire extinguishers must be located at identified fire points around the site:

  • Paper, wood, and cloth - Water extinguisher
  • Flammable liquids - Foam/Dry Powder extinguisher
  • Anything electrical - CO2 extinguisher

For more information on fire extinguishers, refer to our blog on the different types of fire extinguishers.

Carry out a construction fire risk assessment

It’s a legal obligation under the FSO 2005 that a “responsible person” must carry out a risk assessment on a construction site (or any work premises, as a matter of fact).

There are certain elements you must assess when it comes to a fire risk assessment. The HSE states that these are the five steps in carrying out a fire risk assessment:

  • Identify hazards -  consider how a fire could start and what could burn;
  • Identify those at risk - employees, contractors, visitors, and anyone who is vulnerable;
  • Evaluation and action - consider the hazards and people identified in 1 and 2 and act to remove and reduce risk to protect people and premises;
  • Record, plan, and train - keep a record of the risks and action taken. Make a clear plan for fire safety and ensure that people understand what they need to do in the event of a fire; and
  • Review - your assessment should be regularly reviewed to make sure that it takes account of any changes on site

Fire Awareness Training in Construction

Here at iHasco, we offer an online Fire Awareness Training course for construction to help you identify the possible fire hazards in your workplace before any accidents occur. It also covers topics like which fire extinguisher to use and what fire signage is needed around the site.

Additionally, we offer online Fire Awareness Training courses for other industries:

Start your free trial today!