Combustible Refuse

Create designated areas for waste. Regularly clear away any waste material that builds up on-site. There should be clean up procedures at the end of each workday. There should also be procedures for housekeeping at the end of the workweek. Never allow combustible refuse to be piled up and set afire even if it is a considerable distance from a building.

Hot Work

Flame producing equipment such as oxy-acetylene, brazing, welding and cutting torches is a primary concern in on building sites. This process must be carefully monitored and a permit process established. Stop all Hot Work at least one hour before the end of the shift. Fire checks should be made at a minimum of 30 minute intervals. An examination of the area one hour after Hot Work has ended should be required. Always have suitable fire extinguishers located nearby and ready to use.


Frequently on a building site there are temporary electrical services. Unfortunately during building operations these temporary electrical services are subject to mechanical damage by wheelbarrows, forklifts, and other mechanical injury. It is essentially cables and wires be protected to prevent unnecessary damage. Vibration also damages the insulation around wires and therefore needs to be properly monitored. Regular checks should be made on joints and flexible leads. Remember damage to insulation on around electrical cords can cause short circuits.

Flammable Liquids and Gases

When highly flammable liquids or gases are being used on-site is important that local fire and building regulations are thoroughly complied with. Some municipalities limit the amounts of these materials which may be kept on-site unless stored in a properly constructed flammable liquid storage facility. Small quantities of gasoline, methylated spirits, cellulose solutions, paint strippers, acetone, etc. need to be kept in strong metal cans or labeled safety containers.

Gas Cylinders

All cylinders should be stored clear of buildings and a wire mesh enclosure, preferably with a protective covering and kept entirely free of vegetation and rubbish. Signs prohibiting smoking and naked flames needs to be prominently displayed around the storage site for gas cylinders.

Temporary Heaters

All temporary eaters must be properly installed in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. They should only be used on when they are kept in a stable condition and have appropriate protection. Heaters should not be left on if the building is unoccupied. High intensity lights sometimes generate heat and should be securely fixed. Both heaters and lights should be kept away from lightweight combustibles such as paper and plastic.

Contractors Sheds

Many sites have contractor huts, site offices or change rooms are located inside the building under construction. These often contain large quantities of combustible materials, temporary electrical wiring invaluable and often difficult to replace planning, blueprints, specification sheets and project records. As the sheds are usually constructed of combustible materials it should be recognized that huts or sheds that are external to the building should be at least 20 feet from the building.

Fire Protection Features

All fire extinguishers should be properly located, inspected periodically and readily available.

Water supplies, fire service mains, hydrant connections, hose reels and other forms of water connections should be provided as early as possible during the construction. Many local regulations now require the ability for the local fire department to address fires on upper floors during construction work. Experience is shown the serious damage has occurred buildings which do not have adequate fire-flow available.

Fires have seriously damaged new buildings only days before the completion of sprinkler systems due to the systems not being operational yet. It is advisable to get the sprinkler system active as early as possible.

Specific Responsibilities

In large construction projects it is required that a competent person be specifically responsible for fire protection on-site. This person’s duties should include identifying all risks and controlling existing and emerging fire hazards. They need to be involved in the commissioning of fire protection equipment, fire prevention inspection work, instruction of all employees on site and what to do in the event of a fire and the provision of adequate fire instruction notice. Everyone needs to know what their part is in a fire safety plan. Accountability begins with each employee making sure that conditions that create fires are eliminated.