Ramtech raises the standards of fire and life safety

The white paper highlights the importance of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidance, specifically the NFPA 241

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Ramtech’s new white paper raises awareness of fire risk and the life safety solutions available for the US construction industry

Global wireless solutions firm Ramtech recently released an in-depth white paper addressing the US construction fire and life safety challenges that can have devastating consequences including loss of civilian life and millions of dollars in direct property damage annually.

Titled ‘No Site Left Behind: The Modern Fire and Life Safety Solutions for Construction’, the new white paper raises awareness of fire risk and the life safety solutions, including wireless fire evacuation system technology, available across America. It also highlights how more awareness and understanding of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidance, specifically the NFPA 241 (Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations), must be prioritised in order to save lives and protect construction sites.

The challenge

While some factors may appear an obvious hazard, they can often be exacerbated by the way they are currently observed or dealt with but due to the breadth of the US and various conditions and landscapes, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and there are various challenges and threats to fire and life safety on construction sites.

These threats range from extreme weather or temperatures which can have an adverse effect on fires spreading or being put out to highly combustible materials and hot works causing fire by heat, sparks, embers or flame from operating equipment.

Other risks are appliances breakout areas where construction workers go to prepare hot meals and drinks can present a hazard if equipment is overused or left unattended, arson linked to a general lack of site security, electrical distribution, lighting and heating equipment used on site can start a fire and the type of building in particular, a rise in timber frame structures that can catch fire more easily. Essentially, fire risks can be found everywhere on a working or even a vacant construction site.

Following the guidance of the NFPA, specifically the NFPA 241 (Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operations) and having the designated Fire Prevention Program Manager (FPPM), is vital to the fire safety of a construction site and having the designated FPPM, is vital to the fire safety of a construction site.

NFPA 241

The NFPA 241 is one of many codes and standards produced by the NFPA to help eliminate death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards. Through regular revisions and amendments, participants in the NFPA standards development process consider the then-current and available information on incidents, materials, technologies, innovations and methods as these develop over time and that NFPA Standards reflect this consideration.

Over the years, the NFPA has continued to improve the clarity of the guidance provided. Within this latest iteration of the NFPA 241, several revisions have been made. Chapter 4 of the code, General Requirements, contains the main elements of what is being discussed in this whitepaper. It includes who is responsible for fire protection and then introduces The Fire Prevention Program.

The NFPA advises that: “The owner shall designate a person who shall be responsible for the fire prevention program and who shall ensure that it is carried out to completion… the fire prevention program manager shall have the authority to enforce the provisions of this and other applicable fire protection standards.”

In short, every construction site needs an FPPM and an alternate to ensure that site safety is maintained and processes are enforced in line with NFPA 241. This includes: Creating the NFPA 241 Plan for the site by identifying all site hazards at all times and providing solutions to overcome safety issues; Ensuring that appropriate fire evacuation and life safety systems are in place and are always working; Serving as the point of contact for any first responders; Conduct fire drills and make evacuation plans.

While every site may have an FPPM, the challenge is to ensure that the FPPM fully understands the gravity of their responsibility and is competent. This ultimately comes down to experience, training and good documentation. A well trained FPPM will know the construction site layout and how efficiently the site can be covered or evacuated, but they will also grasp the finer points of detail that could be the difference between life and death in the event of a fire, such as the turning space and road access available for firefighters, their vehicles and other first responders.

The Solutions

Ultimately, advancing the state of the solutions in the U.S. could play a significant role in adherence to NFPA 241 and therefore reaching a higher standard of fire protection and safety. By leveraging technology, building owners, site managers and fire prevention officers can get a much higher level of protection than with these conventional processes.

In most cases, this can be done cost effectively too, with forward-thinking technology that combines all the necessary elements. Detection, communication, documentation, connectivity alongside your NFPA 241 plan provides a robust life safety system fit for the industry’s current and future challenges.

Talking about the impact of Ramtech’s white paper exploring modern fire and life safety solutions for construction in North America, global marketing and business development manager James Pecz says that Since the release of the white paper, they have been overwhelmed with the positive responses and comments from the industry: “The white paper seems to have hit the spot and encouraged conversations on the current state of the construction industry’s view of fire and evacuation safety.

“The NFPA241 code is designed to encourage the industry to take the best possible steps to protect construction properties, people, and assets – but instead of contractors seeing this as an opportunity to excel and lead with best practices, the code has historically been used as way to do the bare minimum to satisfy requirements.

“We are hoping that the white paper will educate contractors in what solutions are available and encourage them to utilise new technology to enhance safety.  One thing I have learnt during my time in the construction industry is that technology moves much quicker than the regulations change, so this paper helps highlight that there are modern solutions available to help solve age-old issues.”

This article was originally published in the September edition of IFSJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

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