The first week in May is always an important period for those of us working to educate and share best practices for preventing and reducing the number of intentionally set fires.
This year, Arson Awareness Week runs from May 2-8 and fire service organizations across the country will use this time to promote best practices and new tools for avoiding the damage, property loss and threat to human lives posed by arson.
The theme of this year’s campaign urges the fire service to focus on “Arson During Civil Unrest,” a timely message given the discord that has played out in cities across the country during the last year. The potential dangers inherent during outbreaks of civil unrest, including fires intentionally set, pose a threat to property communities and the lives of business owners and first responders. In fact, during a protest in Minneapolis in June 2020, a 198-unit affordable housing development under construction was destroyed.
For us here, Arson Awareness Week provides an opportunity to educate and reinforce best practices for preventing arson related fires at construction projects. After all, as history suggests, buildings are particularly vulnerable to fire during construction, and certainly not immune from the threat posed by spasms of civil unrest.
Still, the majority of construction site fires, either accidental or intentional, can be prevented if developers and contractors take steps to mitigate risk and protect workers, property and communities.
Most of these steps require minimal investment but go a long way to heightening overall site security. These measures include hiring around-the-clock security and fire watch, erecting fencing on the perimeter of the project site or installing video surveillance or smoke/heat detection and alarm systems. Recently, we explored a new wireless technology that has the potential to elevate site security with minimal financial costs.
There are also significant benefits for developers and contractors to put more emphasis on the critical role of their Site Safety Directors, or in some cases known as the Fire Prevention Program Managers. As established in the code, Site Safety Directors are responsible for the project’s fire prevention program from start to completion.
In addition, those serving in these roles have oversight of routine inspections that can help identify and reduce fire risk for accidental or intentional fire risk.
To learn more and to hear from those in the field, check out this short video on the importance and benefits of putting more thought and resources into beefing up site security.
In closing, we encourage you to join the Construction Fire Safety Coalition to learn more about fire prevention, site security, safety codes and the latest developments designed to prevent and protect against the risk and damage of fire at project sites.
 Buchta, Jim, Minneapolis vandalism targets include 198-unit affordable housing, https://www.startribune.com/minneapolis-vandalism-targets-include-189-unit-affordable-housing-development/570836742/, retrieved April 19, 2021