It’s Fire Prevention Week: What’s Your Jobsite Fire Safety Plan?

Filed in Labor, Safety and Health by on October 8, 2018 1 Comment

This week is Fire Prevention Week, an annual public outreach and awareness campaign from the National Fire Protection Association. While mostly geared to fire prevention in the home, builders can use the week to review their jobsite fire safety practices.

The home building community got a horrible reminder of the dangers of jobsite fires earlier this year when a deadly fire destroyed a multifamily construction site in Denver.

NAHB has valuable resources to help builders keep residential construction sites as fire-resistant as possible, beginning with housekeeping and basic tips:

  • Keep the worksite clear of extraneous items and clean up spills immediately
  • Be aware of fuel and ignition sources on the jobsite and ensure proper placement and storage
  • Ensure rooms have proper ventilation before spraying paint and other solvents
  • Ensure temporary heaters are being properly used
  • Keep fire extinguishers in easy reach and make sure workers are trained to use them
  • Know and communicate your company’s fire protection plan

For more on home building site fire safety, watch the NAHB Toolbox Talk below.

OSHA also has a resource page on fire safety that includes standards and solutions to potential fire hazards on work sites.

Take this week as an opportunity to stop and really think about fire safety on your jobsites. Is everyone aware of the escape plan? When was the last time fire extinguishers were checked? Is housekeeping a daily task? You’re probably already covered, but stop and think about it or ask the questions to make sure.

For more information and to view other Video Toolbox Talks, please visit nahb.org/toolboxtalks. Each is available in English and Spanish versions.

For more information on home building safety, contact Rob Matuga at 202-266-8507.

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  1. Stacey says:

    Here in Anchorage we had a famous fire started by a plumbing contractor. I say famous, because it was devastating and took many years to resolve insurance liabilities. This was in 2006 or 2007.
    In this project, a 4 story condo building, a plumber was making a change to a baseboard hot water heater pipe. The plumber was not on site. His very inexperienced helper was actually doing the work. The helper had nothing to limit fire spread, such as water, or a fire extinguisher, or anything else. When the fire did get started, it was on the wall that backed up to an elevator shaft. The condo unit was on the top floor. The fire went through the wall to the elevator shaft and received a tremendous boost in air due to the high winds that day. The condo building had been cited several times by the fire marshal for improper fire breaks for the elevator shaft. The fire spread directly through the roof to the other units in this building. The fire was very fast and within minutes the building was engulfed. 40 units burned. Nobody was injured or died in this fire.
    The plumbing contractor that started the fire, was working without a permit. They also only had a $250,000 general liability insurance policy and a $5,000 surety bond. The insurance claims were in the millions of dollars and of course exceeded the amount of insurance held by the plumber.
    The condo building complex consisted of 2 buildings. Only one of the buildings burned. This forced the burden of re-building the one building on the full condo association. Most of the tenants were retired and the only property they owned was the condo unit they lived in. The units were not high end and were just regular middle of the road condos. The buildings were about 25 years old.
    The building insurance policy was far exceeded as was the individual condo owners policies exceeded.
    The re-build was bogged down in court and various other issues like pulling building permits. It took years for this building to be re-built.
    Some of the condo building owners that burned, walked away from dealing with the problems. The owners that did not burn in the other building, were left holding the bag of paying for the other building to be re-built. The costs of re-building far exceeded the insurance, and far exceeded what any appraiser would appraise the building for. This has made selling units in these buildings next to impossible.

    All because a plumber didn’t bother to have a properly supervised employee with a proper fire suppression set up, before soldering copper pipe.

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