After a number of high profile construction site fires this year (such as both incidents at Glasgow School of Art) the issue of fire safety is again on everyone’s lips. So, what can construction firms do to safeguard the site, the surrounding areas, employees and the public against fire?
The risk of fire should be a consideration from the outset. Initial design and planning can help to prevent and limit a potentially devastating fire.
On-Site Fire Safety Legislation and Guidance
Fire safety legislation relating to construction sites is outlined in the CITB publication ‘Construction Site safety – C: General safety.’
• The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (FSO) applies to premises, including workplaces. Therefore, a construction site in England and Wales could be deemed to be a workplace. Areas of construction site include occupied extensions that remain part of the construction site and under site management control, office accommodation, and so on. In Scotland requirements on general fire safety are covered in Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act, supported by the Fire safety (Scotland) Regulations. The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) apply in Northern Ireland.
• A ‘responsible person’ must carry out, and keep up to date, a risk assessment and implement appropriate measures to minimise the risk to life and property from fire.
• The responsible person (known as a competent person in Scotland) must make sure that everyone on the premises can escape safely if there is a fire.
• The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) outline the responsibilities with regard to the prevention of fires on sites and emergency procedures, routes and exits, fire detection and firefighting.
A HSE publication HSG168, ‘Fire Safety in Construction’ provides guidance ‘for clients, designers and those managing and carrying out construction work involving significant fire risks’. It includes guidance on the use of temporary site accommodation units (such as offices, canteens and welfare facilities.)
The HSE guidance states:
• Temporary site accommodation should be located no less than 6m away from the building work in the open air. If units have to be located closer, the unit or the part of the building adjacent to it, should be fire resisting.
• On timber-frame and high-risk sites (an initial assessment should establish whether the site is ‘high risk’), temporary site accommodation should be separated from the building under construction by 20m to establish a fire break. If this is not possible, other measures must be put in place to make sure the risk is controlled. (Fire rated units are one such measure.)
This publication should be read in conjunction with all current legislation and the document ‘Fire Prevention on Construction Sites: The Joint Code of Practice on the Protection from Fire of Construction Sites and Buildings Undergoing Renovation’ (more fondly known as ‘The Joint Code’).
Section 13 of the code ‘Temporary Buildings and Temporary Accommodation’ concerns the use of temporary accommodation units on site. Again, it stresses the importance of forward planning and suitable and sufficient risk assessments which should be carried out periodically.
It supports the HSE guidelines on the proximity of units to permanent buildings on site, outlines when fire rated units are a requirement and details the ways that sites can ensure that units do not cause or worsen the spread of fire.
Features of Fire Rated Units
Fire rated units are designed to retain fire within the building, thus helping to prevent the spread of fire.
They are manufactured and tested to meet section 13.3 (Version 9) of ‘The Joint Code’. Fire safety features include external fire resisting doors, wall panels and windows as well as fire stops to pipes and ventilation.
Fire rated units can also be supplied with fire resisting internal doors and wall panels, fire alarms and sprinklers. Design and fit-out are flexible and can be completely bespoke to the project, providing endless possibilities for sites of all sizes.
Wernick Fire Rated Products
Fire rated cabin and modular solutions are available from Wernick.
We supply SureFire® – all steel, category ‘A’ Fire rated, anti-vandal steel units. Fire rated as Category A, our units are manufactured to exceed BS476 requirements and meet the recommendations in the Joint Code of Practice on the Protection from Fire of Construction sites and Buildings Undergoing Renovation.
Independently tested by the Warrington Fire Research Centre, our Surefire® unit was seen to contain fire for 60 minutes: double the stated minimum requirement.
Our cabins can be used for a range of applications such as stores, smoking shelters, canteens, offices, changing rooms, toilets and showers. To see an example of SureFire® units on a high risk site, go to our St. Fagans case study.
Fire rated cabin features:
• Roof and wall cavities insulated with non-combustible glass-wool fibre
• Vinyl wall covering laminated to 12.5mm plasterboard lining, offering Class 0 spread of flame
• Extra duty seam welded anti-static flooring, manufactured to Class 1 spread of flame.
• Treated ceilings offering Class 0 spread of flame
• Zinc rich fibre applied to all external mid steel surfaced and weld areas
• Fully galvanised external wall panels
• Coating of semi-gloss fast reflective fast enamel spray applied to roof for extra protection
• Jack Legs are fitted
• Office units are fitted with fluorescent lights and light switch; 13 amp switched socket outlets; consumer unit and earth leakage circuit breaker.
As with all our cabin fleet, fire rated accommodation can be stacked and linked to create large complexes and they can be fully branded with company colours and imagery.
We can also cater for larger accommodation setups. FMflex® is our fire rated modular system. Based on Wernick Hire’s premium modular product, PMflex®, FMflex® is packed with energy saving features, can go up to three storeys and is designed to make delivering and installing your buildings as efficient as possible.
FMflex® is designed to be compliant with the Joint Code of Practice on the Protection from Fire of Construction Sites and Buildings Undergoing Renovation, offering a fire rating of 30 minutes to the external walls and roof for both insulation and integrity.
Fire rated modular building features:
• Achieves a 30 minute fire rating
• Fire alarm system as standard
• Fire rated windows
• Firestops to pipes and ventilation.
• Compliant with Joint Code of Practise
• Manufactured in-house to ISO9001 and ISO14001 standards.
• 3 Storey Capability
• Quick installation
• Totally flexible layout
• GreenSpace ECO specification
• Air conditioning throughout
For more details on our fire rated products, speak to the team on 0800 970 0231 or email Contact.Hire@wernick.co.uk.