With ‘hot work’ causing around a fifth of fires on construction sites, ensuring foolproof fire safety systems are in place before conducting any operation which could cause a spark is essential, warns fire detection and life safety specialist CDS.
Figures reported by the UK’s national fire safety organisation The Fire Protection Association, show that 20% of fires taking place on construction sites in England between 2018 and 2019 were caused by hot work.
And insurance company Zurich reports that 15% of all the fire claims it processed between 2016 and 2018 are also caused by such activity. The insurance giant says many of these fires could have been avoided if certain simple and cost-effective controls had been followed.
CDS has been working with many huge industrial operations over the past 30 plus years, where ‘hot work’ plays a key role in the day-to-day activities of the site. While hot work can be direct – by using equipment which emits a flame, it can also be indirect, for example using disc cutters which create sparks.
Managing Director Simon Abley explained: “While live construction sites are perhaps the most obvious source of hot work fires, industrial sites also carry a high risk of fire breaking out and spreading with alarming speed. The fires can be exacerbated by proximity to highly flammable materials and chemicals present additional hazards.”
Warehouses, waste management specialists and factories are among the businesses to which CDS provides fire safety expertise – from fire risk assessments, to specifying, monitoring and maintaining all aspects of a fire safety system.
One recent project saw CDS supply and install fixed extinguishant systems to a number of high risk programmable logic controller (PLC) cabinets used on a factory production line. Extinguishant will automatically be released into the individual cabinet in case of fire or overheating and alert the security team to the precise location of the outbreak.
The highly specialised PLCs are also protected by an air sampling system which provides early warning of the potential for fire, offering a belt and braces solution for added peace of mind.
The new system means only the area identified as being at risk needs to shut down while production can continue safely.
All commercial premises are legally obliged to carry out fire risk assessments, regardless of whether or not hot work is carried out on the premises, under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) in England and Wales.
While these can be carried out by the property owners, appointing a professional is advisable, particularly in complex or large buildings – and those in which hot work is carried out.