Experts meet on construction site fire prevention
Construction site fire safety is a significant contemporary issue among code officials and property owners as a recent number of “mega-fires” have destroyed millions of dollars of property and killed four persons.
An estimated 35 people attended the Construction Fire Safety Coalition roundtable discussion at the Congressional Fire Services Institute annual symposium held April 18, 2018, in Washington, D.C. Attendees included national residential property developers as well as fire protection professionals.
Panelists Ray Bizal of the National Fire Protection Association, Chief William J. Corrigan of the College Park (MD) Volunteer Fire Department, Chief Steve Lohr of the Hagerstown (MD) Fire Department and Lieutenant Christopher Towski of the Cambridge (MA) Fire Department were asked their perspectives on the impact and solutions for mega-fires during construction. International Code Council Vice President for National Fire Service Activities Rob Neale moderated the panel discussion.
The panelists agreed both the International Codes and National Fire Protection Association standards adequately address the threats, but the major problem is educating property owners and code officials to employ their guidelines and enforce the codes.
On March 7, 2018, two Denver-area construction workers died in the middle of the day in a construction site fire. Not long afterwards, two fire fighters from York, Penn., were killed when a fire-weakened masonry wall collapsed onto them. The building was an old organ manufacturing plant being converted to residential use.
Fires during construction or remodeling occur when the structure is most vulnerable: fire protection systems and equipment may not be in place, fire resistive construction and opening protectives may not be complete, and a huge variety of flammable and combustible material has accumulated on a job site.
More information and free materials can be found at www.constructionfiresafetyproactices.org.