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Fire Prevention on Construction Sites

BACKGROUND


The Joint Code of Practice on the Protection from Fire of Construction Sites and Buildings Undergoing Renovation (published jointly by Construction Industry Publications Ltd. and the Fire Protection Association) is now in its tenth edition. The fact that this Code has continued to evolve since being first published in 1992 is a clear indication of the major concerns which continue to exist as regards fires on construction sites and the need to promote effective fire safety management. In recent years, fires involving large timber framed structures have become a particular concern, requiring the close attention of Consultants.


(In addition to the above document, guidance is also published by the HSE in the guise of HSG 168: Fire Safety in Construction.)

 

APPLICATION OF THE CODE


All Consultants should be aware of the scope and contents of this important document which should be applied where appropriate, with particular attention given to high fire risk

sites which are separately defined in the Code as follows:


  • A high-rise construction site: a site where the workforce is at risk by being outside the distance by which the fire and rescue service can effect a rescue by mechanical means (currently 30m reach from the position where a fire appliance may be parked).

  • A large project: projects where the original contract value is £20m or above.

  • A large timber framed structure: a timber framed structure of four or more storeys and/or an aggregate floor area of 2500m2 or more.

  • Projects: where risk assessments indicate significant potential loss of life or property.


The scope of the Code applies to projects with an original contract value of £2.5m or above and equally applies to contracts of smaller value when these are part of a large project (see above). There may be exceptional circumstances, such as in the case of high fire risk sites, where these thresholds are reduced. In cases where the construction contract or the insurance contract does not require this Code to apply, this Code shall serve as ‘best practice’.

                                                          

SURVEY EXPECTATIONS


Where indicated in the survey request that compliance with the Code forms part of the insurance contract, it is important that Consultants undertake the appropriate investigations with regards to compliance and that this information is contained in the survey report with significant shortcomings highlighted. For this purpose, the appending checklist to the Code should be used.


In cases where the Code is not part of the insurance contract, it should be employed as

recommended guidance, applied commensurate with the risk, and improvements raised as appropriate.


In the event that enquiries at the time of survey concerning proposed changes reveal that a significant new build or refurbishment project is planned, information concerning this project is to be included in the report and, where appropriate, the Code tabled as a Risk Improvement (whether as a Requirement or a Recommendation, will depend on the circumstances of the case).


When considering the application of this Code to an existing facility, Consultants should not only bear in mind the value of the project, but also the potential site exposure/EML and the fact that a fire, for instance, in an extension under construction could spread, potentially resulting in a total loss of a major facility.


(In addition to the application of the Code, where major new build or refurbishment projects are planned, it may be necessary, depending on the size and nature of the project, to request that Underwriters obtain early sight of plans and specifications from which (via RiskSTOP) they may have valuable input at the planning stage as to the fire and security protection arrangements and other relevant features).

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