Buildings under construction sometimes have large quantities of combustible material, plastics, paneling, paints, gases, and refuse on sites. When there is a large amount of flammable materials on a building site, fire protection must be taken very seriously.

With so much at risk, it is essential that fire safety policies and procedures are in place. Not only should fire safety prevent the outbreak of a fire, but it also should provide for successful evacuation if a fire does occur. Therefore, you should be familiar with all of the risks and the hazards of a project.

There are three things that are needed to start a fire; heat, fuel and oxygen.

It is important that you be able to observe the following factors and to eliminate them whenever possible.

  • sources of ignition
  • naked flames
  • sparks and arcs
  • smoking habits
  • malfunctioning electrical equipment
  • friction generated from equipment
  • sources of finely divided fuels such as shavings, sawdust and kindling
  • flammable liquids and gases , especially LPG
  • paper, cardboard, trash and debris
  • a source of oxygen
  • natural airflow


The reason smoking should be prohibited especially in areas where combustibles are located is because smoking habits include the use of open flames and the disposal of smoking materials can be a source of ignition. Large safety signs indicating “no smoking” should be appropriately displayed. Proper discipline of employees who violate smoking regulations need to be enforced.

It is important to identify just who is most at risk if you have a fire in a building under construction. Construction sites can be a dangerous environment all by themselves. The building becomes more and more dangerous when there is a multitude of workers are plying their trade at different levels in a building. This checklist can be used to improve the safety on your construction site in the event of fire.

  • Where are the tradesmen and steel workers located within the building?
  • Can they evacuate safely?
  • What factors place them in danger?
    • flame
    • smoke
  • Potential for structural collapse?

Next it is important to use your findings to implement your fire safe strategies. It is important to remember to:

  • Reduce the risk of a fire actually occurring
  • Remove or reduce all sources of ignition
  • Remove reduce or control the availability of fine fuel such as sawdust, paper and cardboard
  • Remove or reduce any at excess oxygen
  • Address the risks to people that are working above you
  • Be prepared to implement general fire precautions

As in any safety feature there are always further elements to ensuring that your safety assessment of your construction site is managed accordingly and properly thought out.

  • Record your findings and the necessary actions that should have been done
  • Ask yourself the question-have I removed or reduced the risk. Are my records accurate regarding the situation
  • Instruct your work force to make sure they understand how the emergency plan works. Make sure the workforce is trained and drilled in overall strategies

The constant monitoring and implementation of your fire risk assessment and completion of periodic fire drills are essential to assuring the safety of a worksite. Construction site conditions change hourly and daily. This means that frequent assessments must be carried out to assure that the measures remain current the reason for a new review may be:

  • The progression of building construction on the site
  • Change in labor force on the site
  • Introduction of a new hazardous substance
  • Change in the quantities and types of materials
  • Increase in the number of personnel