Mandatory Fire Safety Requirements for Construction Sites in British Columbia
As the owner or manager of a construction site, you need to ensure you’re in compliance with the provisions of the British Columbia Fire Code (BCFC) before breaking ground. This involves producing a fire safety plan in co-operation with the local fire department and other regulatory authorities such as the British Columbia Safety Authority and WorkSafeBC.
Causes of fire on construction sites
Being aware of what is behind fires is a great way to be prepared for such incidents. Some of the most prominent causes are as follows:
- Combustible dust is usually ignored as a hazard but has come up as a major fire-causing factor. Anything from chemicals to metals are combustible as dust.
- Hot work involving brazing, soldering or burning are significant fire hazards without adequate precautions in place.
- Equipment like an inadequately installed furnace is a fire hazard. As most mechanical devices have moving parts, the friction between these components poses a very real possibility of a fire incident.
- Electrical hazards are among the most common dangers on a construction site. Some of these are:
• Exposed wiring
• Circuit overload
• Static discharge
• Extension cords
What’s a fire safety plan?
Construction Site Fire Safety Plans (CSFSP) is formulated by the builder to document fire hazards and their precautions at construction sites. The National Building Code of Canada, along with many fire codes, has made this compulsory to ensure the safety of personnel by stating the required actions during such incidents.
You can think of a fire safety plan as a document detailing the best practices for fire prevention. It deals with all aspects of fire safety as they relate to your property and it should be used as a reference manual. The CFO at the municipal fire service and the developer’s insurance provider should have early access to the CSFSP.
Included in the plan are the BCFC provisions that are applicable to your construction site. The specific provisions depend on the scope of the project and the conditions of the site (for example, size and type of building and proximity to adjacent buildings).
Preparing the CSFSP
The plan needs to be prepared before the start of the construction with builders accounting for every guideline in it to avoid hazards or complication when the project is underway. This will also allow the fire service the opportunity to review and comment on the document, resolving any issues in time.
What does a fire safety plan ensure?
There’s a lot that goes into fire safety, and a fire safety plan deals with the many aspects of fire safety comprehensively. For example, it ensures the following:
- All site personnel are trained on evacuation procedures
- Specific site personnel are designated to carry out fire safety duties
- Emergency responders are notified in the event of a fire emergency
- Firefighting operations can be performed effectively
- Fire risk to adjacent properties is reduced
There’s much more that could be added to this list. You can find more information about Fire Safety Planning for Construction and Demolition Sites on the Government of British Columbia’s website.
What are some other fire safety best practices?
Your fire safety plan will ensure that you abide by the applicable BCFC provisions. However, it’s always wise to take additional precautions to further decrease the risk of fire damage. Here are some examples of good practices when it comes to fire safety.
- Have effective security personnel (note that most incendiary fires at construction sites occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.)
- Use intrusion deterrents and surveillance to prevent trespassing
- Have a highly visible safety station with a fire extinguisher and air horn
This list can be greatly extended. To form a comprehensive safety plan, work with a qualified fire protection contractor.
Fire protection services in British Columbia
If you need a new fire safety plan for your construction site or would like to have your current fire safety plan reviewed and updated, call on the experts at Pacific Coast Fire Equipment. With offices in Victoria and Coquitlam, we provide British Columbia and Western Canada with a wide range of fire protection services, including inspection of fire alarms, extinguishers and sprinklers as well as installation of industrial fire suppression systems. To inquire about our services, contact us today.