Roles Construction Professionals Ensuring Fire Safety During and After Construction
Fire accidents are frequently experienced in different parts of the world. They cause loss of lives, damage to property, severe burn injuries and disruption of production activities. There are several causes of fire: Arsons, electrical faults, hot works, tobacco smoking, and lightning strikes. Various protection systems are always set in place to reduce the magnitude of damages. Many construction professionals are involved in setting up safety equipment to provide detection, warning, and extinguishing services. Safety officers work in collaboration with all the technical staff involved in building to ensure all the protection rules are followed.
This research paper aims to determine the roles of the construction professionals in ensuring safety in construction sites before and after construction. With the use of real-life case studies on fire safety and secondary sources of information, the paper gives detailed information on the roles played by architectures, structural engineers, electrical technicians and safety officers in ensuring the buildings are safer from fire breakouts.
Table of Contents
1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 4
1.1 Background 4
1.2 Objectives 5
1.2.1 Main objective 5
1.2.2 Specific objectives. 5
1.3 Statement of the Problem 5
1.4 Significance of the Study 5
2 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 6
2.1 Introduction 6
2.2 Research studies on fire safety Requirements 7
2.3 Roles and Responsibilities of Construction staff in buildings. 8
2.4 Studies on Relationships between risks and Construction methods During Fire Breakouts. 10
3 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 12
3.1 Introduction 12
3.2 Fire accident investigations. 12
3.2.1 Analysis of case studies 12
3.2.2 Analysis of research articles 12
3.3 Investigation of Fire Safety Systems and Equipment used by the construction staff. 13
3.3.1 Protection systems and procedures used by Construction Professionals 13
4 CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH RESULTS AND ANALYSIS. 14
4.1 A case study on Priory Hall Fire Safety Issue 14
4.2 A case study on Six Timber Frame Houses fire outbreak. 15
4.3 Fire protection systems and procedures used by professionals. 17
4.3.1 Main ignition risks managed by construction officials 17
4.3.2 Fire safety systems designed and installed construction professionals. 20
4.4 A study on the critical duties of Construction Safety Officers. 24
5 CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 25
5.1 Conclusion. 25
5.2 Recommendations 26
6 REFERENCES 27
1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
The occurrence of fire accidents in areas of construction and complete buildings are due to some reasons. Arsons, accidents due to the carelessness of occupants, and electrical faults are some of the significant starters of fire instances (Industrial Vacuum, 2016). In the process, individuals are killed, some get injured, properties are damaged, and regular activities are disrupted. It is essential to control the fire hazards and risks to avoid significant damages once it has started (Muckett, 2007).
All stakeholders who are involved in construction projects have a responsibility for improving the fire safety in construction. Architectures, consultants, building manages, structural engineers, electrical experts, and building safety officers are the key professionals involved in development (Smart Buildings, 2009). They play technical, management, and logistic roles during the whole project. During the construction phase and until the final fire protection system is installed, the buildings will be more vulnerable. While is it imperative to protect the construction sites from fire risk, it is equally critical to ensure the fire protection of completed buildings (Muckett, 2007). Despite meeting the standards of fire protection required by Building Regulations, the buildings are considered vulnerable to fire. The fire risk and safety need to be managed from the early stages of designing, planning, procurement, construction until the building is completed. The big questions revolve around the people responsible for the cause and spread of fire.
This paper aims to use case studies and evidence-based research results to determine the roles that construction professionals play in ensuring fire safety during and after constructions. With the description of the core duties of the building expert, the paper discusses the specific contributions they have to make in preventing and reducing the risks of fire.
1.2.1 Main objective
To determine the roles of construction professionals in ensuring fire safety during and after construction.
1.2.2 Specific objectives.
i. To identify the key professionals in the Building and Construction industry
ii. To find out the core duties of the professionals during and after the project
iii. To investigate the major causes of fire accidents and assess all the risks involved using case studies and secondary data sources.
iv. To determine specific roles that each construction expert must execute to ensure safety during and after construction.
1.3 Statement of the Problem
Fire accidents and incidents are menaces that are occasionally experienced in various regions across the globe. The critical consequences of the events are death, severe injuries, loss of property, and disruption of production processes. All the demerits have an impact on the economy because buildings and constructions are significant contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (World Bank, 2014). . After investigations on the cause of the fire by safety teams, the responsibilities of individual construction professionals are never clear. It is, therefore, difficult to determine the duties that each of the experts must undertake to ensure safety in areas of construction during and after completion of their jobs.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The study is a timely research that will help in discovering the actual roles of construction professionals in reducing fire accidents and incidents. The investigation will unearth the fire precautions and safety measures that must be observed during constructions. With an increase in the number of infrastructural developments across different continents, understanding the best practices for safety is critical. The paper will help in the control of hazards and risks involved in the building processes. Engineers, architects, and safety officers will be more accountable for their duties when more research is done on their safety roles in the building industry.
2 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
In ensure safety in buildings, construction managers must ensure that all the building professionals and contractors follow set regulations. Fires are the most catastrophic occurrences in buildings when safety measures are not put in place. Construction contributes to a considerable share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the economies of most countries. For example, India and the United Arab Emirates have their building infrastructure contributing to more than 7% of their GDP (WorldBank, 2014). Ensuring fire safety in buildings is a difficult task; electrical smoke detection, fire monitoring, and extinguishing equipment have to be installed.
Without a doubt, the safety requirements of a building are the number one priority of architectures, construction managers, civil engineers, and electrical engineers. Risk-based inspections are also essential for protection. To understand the roles of construction staff in ensuring fire protection, the requirements by regulating bodies must be precise. The professionals in the site must understand the equipment and systems they must install to orchestrate safety. The construction phase of a building is representative of a small time when the whole lifetime of the building is considered. A Fire Safety Coordinator (FSC) is valuable during and after the entire project. Before construction, the FSC trains the builders on fire safety skills (“Fire Safety during Construction,” 2016). All the risks involved in during outbreaks must be assessed and prevented. In the event of fire outbreaks in a building, investigations are appropriate to investigate the roles of individuals involved and the building staff in the menace.
2.2 Research studies on fire safety Requirements
A study by Juan Rodriguez shows that Construction Cite Fire safety Plans (CSFSP) have played a critical role in minimizing chances of fires occurring in buildings (Rodriguez, 2017). CSFSPs also provide guidance on extinguishing procedures, notification systems, and ways of evacuation (“Fire Safety during Construction,” 2016). The construction safety officer ensures that all the workers in the site adhere to the set regulations and policies. According to the legislative document on CSFSP, all the fire risks must be considered; protection features must be highlighted, actions to minimize accidents, and control procedures are mandatory for all constructions. After induction, the electrical and systems engineers provide the fire safety coordinators with all the information on fire protection installations. All the information on how to maintain and repair all the fire equipment are provided by the engineers (“Fire Safety during Construction,” 2016). The safety officers approve the documents after ensuring that it has met the standards for installation, maintenance, and control. It is also appropriate for the installation team to create a communication system that will initiate a fire warning for vacation, automatic extinguishing, and alert to the fire brigades.
Without a doubt, there are fundamental fire precautions that site users must observe and follow during building constructions (Sumathipala & Coleman, 2015). According to the writers, a fire safety plan is essential for the reduction of risks and dangers during catastrophic periods. All the construction professionals are required to understand the Fire Protection Programs (FPP) mandated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (Sumathipala & Coleman, 2015). New constructions managers must implement pre-fire plans with the guidance of National Fire Departments. With the aim of increasing the awareness and adoption of protection, Best Management Practices (BMP) are put in place for people working on construction sites. They will, therefore, be aware of what to do in the event of a fire, emergency exit areas, location of assembly points, and housekeeping procedures. The contractors using combustible materials must be aware of the places to exercise storage and dumping during and after construction.
After completion and occupation of the building, the fire and department remain with responsibilities (Meacham & Tubbs, 2007). They ensure an avoidance of burning and explosion hazards during occupancy. They design designated places for storing materials that are hazardous and explosive. The professional team also prepare fire codes for protection purposes (Morgan, L, 2009). The foreseeable health risks are therefore eliminated. In the event of fire accidents, the safety experts are expected to carry out investigations to find out the causes and implement precautionary measures to prevent further occurrences and risks.
2.3 Roles and Responsibilities of Construction staff in buildings.
In a construction site, the building professionals are involved in different forms of technical activities that are directly or indirectly linked to causes of the fire. Construction managers, Architectures, structural engineers, electricians, and safety officers are the primary professionals involved in the construction process. The first technical operation is undertaken by the architect who designs the building with the guidance of quantity surveyors, consultants, and construction managers to meet the requirements of the client (Designers, 2015). All the pre-construction information are accounted for by the designer. The architects together with the management team and quantity surveyors also provide the plan and construction phases for the project. After design, the civil engineers and consultants execute technical and feasibility studies on the site. They carry out complex calculations to ensure that the materials quoted by quantity surveyors meet the requirements of the architectures. Then assess the sustainability of the project and risks it causes to the surrounding. They ensure all fire safety measures are put in place during construction. They use sophisticated Autodesk software to simulate the extent of damages that may occur due to fire or tremors. They are responsible for the accessibility of fire exist areas and strategic assembly points (Target Jobs, 2017). During the construction process, the electrical engineer is provided with the design of the physical building. The electrician interprets the CAD document, makes calculations on the power requirements and makes the electrical design. The principal activities during this stage are the wiring layouts, the cable sizing, the switching systems, and the security installations. Most of the events in electrical design have a direct relationship with commencement and escalation of fire. All the devices to be installed must meet the National Electric Codes to prevent instances of combustion (Morgan, 2009). They also carry testing and maintenance of the installed electrical equipment. The safety officers then carry out the site safety inspection to ensure that all the protection standards are met. They also carry out job hazard analysis, enforcement of regulations, and team leading in safety enhancement during the whole project. Table 2.1 shows the details of what is monitored by Construction Safety Officers.
1. Electrical safety
7.1 All equipment has been PAT tested according to the policy
7.2 Reduced voltage/ battery operated equipment is used where possible
7.3 Power cables are in good condition and located to prevent them being damaged or coming into contact with water
2. Permits to work/Safe systems of work
8.1 Permits to work are used to control high risk activities: access to confined spaces, roofs, plant rooms, walk in ducts, electric/mechanical isolations, electrical live work, hot work, work on safety cabinets, fume cabinets and lab drains, digging etc
3.5 Final exit fire doors are checked weekly
3.6 Escape routes are clear of obstructions
3. First Aid
4.1 First aid notices are displayed
4.2 First aiders are appointed and trained
9.1 The site/workplace is secure and unauthorised access is prevented
10.1 An adequate supply of appropriate PPE is available
10.2 Suitable storage for PPE is available
5. Workplace transport
11.1 Suitable warning signs are posted
11.2 Vehicular routes are segregated from pedestrian routes and clearly marked
11.3 Contractor parking is in accordance with the University Parking Policy
6. Safety signs/notices
12.1 All necessary safety signs (mandatory, warning prohibition and information) are posted
Table 1: Details of Safety officer inspections.
2.4 Studies on Relationships between risks and Construction methods During Fire Breakouts.
Unquestionably, the magnitude of damage and the extent of risks involved in buildings during fire instances are related to the method of construction used by the constructing professionals (“Euro Fire Protection,” 2014). The reliability of fire detection and extinguishing devices, the accessibility of emergency exits, and availability of assembly areas depend on the design work by structural and electrical engineers who are building professionals. For example, the electrical wire insulations may be damaged due to poor connections and trucking designs. Fires due to electric short circuits are consequential. If the cables used in wiring do not meet the Electrical Installation Standards, cabling damage which causes an explosion is imminent (Industrial Vacuum, 2016). Also, power system faults in complex constructions such as heavy industries may also result in instances of fire. All the accidents mentioned are contributed by poor maintenance procedures by Electricians executing building management services.
The combustible materials used by structural engineers may be present in buildings. Petroleum products used by mechanical engineers to power machines in industrial sites may also be a fire risk. When buildings are designed in a way that emergency walkways are blocked are not readily accessible to crowded areas, the probability of more casualties during fire outbreaks are high. House and landscape designs may also place building furniture in compromising positions that spread fire faster and obstruct people from escaping (“Euro Fire Protection,” 2014). Flammable gases and liquids that are not stored in safe areas of a building may also contribute to the faster spread of fire. The site managers are responsible for fuel management and prevention of hazardous operations.
3 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The main area of study which the adopted methodology utilizes is the Building and Construction industry. The information source for the proposed research will be case studies involving fire safety, qualitative secondary sources of information, and analysis from journals articles. The sources are appropriate for understanding the internal and external dynamics of the research topic.
3.2 Fire accident investigations.
3.2.1 Analysis of case studies
Explanatory, descriptive and exploratory case studies are used in the research to identify the functions of construction professionals in ensuring safety in buildings. The case studies cover real-life investigations of fire instances and research on the building industry. Examples of the cases are “Prior Hall in County Dublin in Ireland “ and “Six Timber Frame Houses that went on fire in County Kildare.”
3.2.2 Analysis of research articles
Qualitative scholarly research articles are used to investigate the causes of fire outbreaks in buildings and the roles of constructors in the events. The findings and analysis of educational journal articles contain detailed information that substantiates the significant contributors to fire accidents and the professionals whose roles are mainly touched.
3.3 Investigation of Fire Safety Systems and Equipment used by the construction staff.
3.3.1 Protection systems and procedures used by Construction Professionals
Technical sources of data containing the key activities I construction sites are identified. Reliable information on the equipment and methods used in protection against fire are collected from building and construction books. Their relationship with the roles of architectures, engineers, and site inspectors are identified. The activities that promote or prevent fire are discussed, and the experts involved are identified. Information on safety precautions after completion of construction are extracted from reliable secondary sources of information. The building experts that contribute to the continued safety of the buildings after occupation are revealed using the data sourced.
4 CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH RESULTS AND ANALYSIS.
4.1 A case study on Priory Hall Fire Safety Issue
The case of Priory Hall that involved fire risks revealed the safety issues that must be handled by the construction professionals. The Priory Hall building is located in Dublin in Ireland. In October 2011, at least 239 residents were moved out after a court order to ensure safety in the building (BBC, 2013). Tom McFeely who is a former IRA hunger striker participated in the construction of the 189-apartments. The High Court of Dublin ordered for the emergency eviction because the fire could spread within the building at quickly. The fire risk was reported by the Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland (SCSI). The team of construction consultants and quantity surveyors played a safety role in ensuring no deaths in case of a fire scenario (BBC, 2013). The recommendations were made after identification of significant defects in the building Clifford, 2015).
Unquestionably, the study of high-risk residential buildings on the apartment revealed the defects that could contribute to significant fire accidents (White, 2017). The fire alarm systems of the building were not working correctly hence jeopardizing the ability to give quick emergency alerts. CJ Wash who is an expert in architectural services, building consultancy, and fire engineering warned on the need for quality building control for Priory Hall. There were no heat alarm interconnections, and the fire alarm systems in the stairwells were poorly engineered. The requirements by the Dublin fire brigade were not met (Clifford, 2015). As a construction professional, he played a critical role in creating a platform for improvement of safety in buildings in Ireland.
A visual inspection of the building by Architect Stephen Oppermann expounded on the safety concerns (Treacy et al., 2011). He noted external cavities that could escalate the spread of fire. The fire officers also pointed out that the blocks built during the boom were potential death traps during fire outbreaks (Clifford, 2015). The building was not in complete compliance with the regulations. Dublin County Council catered for a hotel bill of €4000 every day for the evicted residents. McFeely apologized to tenants and started the repair plan.
In construction management, fire plans are usually signed off at the drawing stages by the architecture (Morgan, 2009). The fire safety officers, engineers, and surveyors did all the required documentation without taking note of the major faults. The construction professionals and consultants that inspected the building played a valuable role in ensuring reconstruction of the apartments for safety purposes. The safety of the tenant was therefore assured after they were evicted before fire accidents.
4.2 A case study on Six Timber Frame Houses fire outbreak.
A fire safety report on Co Kildare fire that burnt down six homes in less than thirty minutes substantiates the risks involved when construction professionals do not fully comply with the building regulations (Clifford, 2017). The rapid spread of fire happened on last day of March 2015 in the afternoon hours. It is evident that the timber frame houses escalated the high risk (Farrell, 2017). The case study Millfield Manor was an example indicating the disadvantages that timber frame houses are associated. Construction professionals who use a lot of wood materials for the building must put in place more fire safety measures to avoid breakouts and increased spread. Findings by the housing Department indicated that the houses did not meet the standards of building regulations.
According to the Irish Examiner report, several safety needs were not met. The inspecting builders noticed poor jointing of plasterboards that separated walls (Clifford, 2017). Fire stopping walls were not constructed on the roofs. Cavity closers were omitted. The penetration that enhanced separation of walls were made with timbers that could spread more fire. Most timber frame apartments must meet the basic fire needs during construction. The negligence of building experts caused damage to the timber houses. Lack of implementation of fire stopping measures by the safety officers also contributed to the massive damages. Figure 1 shows the salvage after the fire breakout (Clifford, 2017).
Figure 1: Six Timber Frame Houses salvage.
A study investigating the safety Kildare housing after the fire breakout indicated that the remaining homes do not comply with the Irish housing regulations (Farrell, 2017). The report mentioned lack of fire stopping systems. Shoddy craft in separating walls was evident. According to the house architect, it should have taken at least three hours for the fire to spread across the six houses. The experience of twenty-five minutes contradicted the statement from design. The interpretation is that the structural and system engineers did not meet the safety requirements during their installations.
Fire safety in timber dwellings can be enhanced by a collaboration of designers, builders, and safety officers. The case study can be used to show the negative consequences of inadequate safety measures in houses made of wooden materials. When all the construction professionals observe safety standards at the different stages of building projects, safety is enhanced. The risk of quick fire spread in timber frame estates can go down.
4.3 Fire protection systems and procedures used by professionals.
4.3.1 Main ignition risks managed by construction officials
A research report presented by Safelinks on fire safety solutions in construction sites discusses the primary initiators of explosions in buildings (Safelinks, 2016). The study was in response to the damages and deaths that are experienced annually in construction sites. The company experts identified the causes of most ignitions to device ways of control and elimination. Electrical faults are known causes of fires in buildings. An overcurrent fault between the mains supply and the equipment powered leads to the generation of heat that ignites the combustible elements in the system (ElectronicsHub, 2015). The overcurrent faults are categorized into three: Line to a ground fault which occurs when the neutral wire gets in to contact with one of the phases that supply the connected power equipment. The line to line faults happens when the power connections of a three-phase machinery get into contact through insulation breakdown. A three-phase failure occurs when all the wires supplying a machine such as the industrial three-phase motor get linked (ElectronicsHub, 2015). More copious amounts of heat of more than 300 0C are generated causing a fire on combustible materials. Electrical engineers carrying out installation design in the buildings must ensure that the ratings of the cables used to match the amount of energy drawn by the powered machines. When the electricians meet all the power requirements and the electrical regulation standards for installations, the safety of the building is guaranteed.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, hot works in the construction industries contribute to more than 4, 000 structure fires annually (Ahrens, 2016). Hot flames are generated during the processes of construction, manufacturing, demolition, renovation, and repair. Figure 2 shows the sparks generated during hot works. Between 2010 and 2014 in the United States, NFPA reported twelve deaths, two-hundred and eight severe injuries and property damages worth more than $280 million (Ahrens, 2016). Flames, ignitions, arcs, and sparks are some of the well-known hot works. Flammable materials such as petroleum contribute to the spread of the combustion resulting into massive fires that are uncontrollable and deadly (“Petroleum Hazards,” 2013). The construction site Safety officers should play a role in ensuring safety during such circumstances. The fire safety coordinators should carry out a rigorous inspection to ensure that flammable materials such as petroleum are placed away from sites with hot works. They can also instruct builders and technologists using spark and flame generating machines to use designated areas where people are not exposed to risks of burns. The construction managers can train their personnel on how to use devices that release hot works (IndustrialVacuum, 2016). According to the report by Nilfisk, more than thirty-seven thousand fire accidents occur in manufacturing and industrial buildings (IndustrialVacuum, 2016). It is the work of the site construction managers to supervise the activities of the technical team and ensure all the fire risks involved are avoided.
Figure 2: Sparks from hot works in a construction site.
Without a doubt, smoking is a cause of fires that have been evident in already constructed industries (Safelinks, 2016). According to a study by John Hall, the United States fire department has handled m about ninety-thousand fire incidents caused due to smoking activities between 2010 and 2011 (Hall, 2013). The report is established on the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) survey. Furniture, trash, mattresses and other bedding materials are the ones likely to be ignited by fire from tobacco. The NFPA and building environmental health officers have set up regulations and precautionary measures to increase the safety of residents in occupied buildings. They are encouraging smokers to use cigar outside their rooms in designated zones, put out the hot smoke before throwing it, be alert, and use ashtrays during smoking (Hall, 2013). The fire safety coordinators in building and construction can work with the guidance of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to create designated areas for smoking. Through abolition of smoking in construction areas with flammable elements such as diesel and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), the whole site will be a safe place. Temporary lightings and lamps may also cause fire through minor faults.
Protection engineers are playing a critical role in reducing the risks of fire during lightning phenomena. With the guidance of regulations of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), electricians can protect buildings from dangers of high voltages due to lightning and switching surges (IEEE, 2004). Through the installation of lightning arrestors in buildings and surge diverters in high voltage construction industries, the probability of experiencing fire breakouts during lightning is reduced. Figure three illustrates how buildings are protected from lightning. Electrical experts also install robust grounding systems to protect machine operators from short circuit and other faults. Between the years 2007 and 2011, the United States fire department reported more than fifty death of civilians and damage of $450 worth of property due to lightning strikes (Ahrens, 2013). The 2006 coal mine explosion in the US was one of the deadliest attacks due to lightning. Methane gas in the coal site was ignited by the strike that created a surge on the line supplying the station (Cote, 2000). A Coal Mine Safety rule was later passed to prevent further accidents. Electrical engineers in the coal sites were required to install proper grounding systems and reliable lightning arrestors. Fire safety coordinators were expected to instruct operators in coal mines of where to keep the flammable elements to avoid cases of fire accidents.
Figure 3: A building protected from lighting strike.
4.3.2 Fire safety systems designed and installed construction professionals.
Fire protection systems are designed and installed by systems engineers who have expert information on safety and emergency systems (Cote, 2000. They work with Construction safety coordinators who ensure that all the safety precautions are adhered to with an utmost good faith. Fire detection and alarm systems help in preventing massive damage to property and deaths when fires break out in buildings and construction sites. Explosion due to combustion is one of the most dangerous incidences where keen precautions must be taken when dealing. Builders must ensure a well-established system detect, alert people and suppress fire within the shortest time possible. A lot of money and effort are spent in installing the latest or state of the art fire detection and suppression system to assure the safety of the buildings’ occupants against the eventuality of a fire outbreak. Construction engineers spend a lot of time in research and fabrication labs coming up with the most robust ways of detecting, alarming and extinguishing combustions due to fire and explosions (Designers, 2015).
184.108.40.206 Fire detection systems developed by construction safety engineers.
Fire detection systems are connected to alarms that trigger alerts. They sense an increase in heat and smoke levels in a building due to fire. They send the signals to the control panels of alarms that communicate to automatic extinguishing systems and fire brigades (SmantBuildings, 2009). In the past detection of fire relied on a person seeing fire or smoke physically to signify and alert the occupants of the building or room about the incident by shouting (Ernfjall et al., 2013). This method has proven to be unreliable when it comes to buildings which have many rooms or floors as it may take a lot of time to convey the information to every people. Also, a person might detect the presence of fire after it has done a lot of damage to property. Intelligent systems have therefore over the course of time been developed to sense fire efficiently by providing earlier and reliable detection. Currently, fire detection is automatic and can be achieved using some methods depending on the apparatus designed to detect the phenomena associated with heat, smoke, and flame.
Figure 4: Smoke detector
Without a doubt, ionization, optical and photoelectric smoke detectors have shown high efficiency in sensing smoke at the early stages of fire outbreaks (Muckett, 2007). Ionization detectors operate by ionizing air using radioisotopes. They are designed by safety engineers to detect the difference in smoke levels and a signal to the building alarm system. Optical smoke sensors operated using infrared light. The light of high frequency is obstructed when there is smoke due to fore. The sensor then communicates to the warning system.
Building protection experts have also designed heat detection devices that are effective in sensing fire through temperature change (Designers, 2015). Fire causes a sudden increase in temperature that is noticed by the heat detectors. Flame sensors also notice changes in light bandwidth when there is a fire incident. They send alarm signals to the warning systems.
220.127.116.11 Fire alarm systems used in buildings to enhance safety
Unquestionably, a complete protection system must have a reliable way of alerting occupants, staring automatic extinguishing, and communicating to the brigade. Building management service providers create a communication platform that is connected to the fire sensing units and control systems (Jee et al., 2014). The notification devices use audio, video, and textual data to warn the people. Occupants will be in a position to vacate their rooms and carry with them valuable property before they are consumed by fire (Cote, 2000). Buzzers and alarms usually emit standardized audible tones. An example is the use of siren sounds to warn the people around. Emergency Voice Alarm Communication Systems (EVACS) use recorded voice messages to inform occupants and firefighters.
Figure 5: Fire Alarm system
During constructions, builders give room for manual fire alarms devices such as ports for installing handbells . There different alarm categories depending on the size of buildings, number of people expected to occupy the areas at a given period and the kind of properties of the materials in the stored (Jee et al., 2014). Sites with highly flammable elements such as petroleum use very stable warning systems to avoid possible catastrophes. Construction designers must set up several areas for fire alarms in their construction layouts (Ernfjäll et al., 2013). The telecommunication and instrumentation engineers that manufacture fire detection and alarm appliances must provide manuals to the operators to of the buildings to enhance strict adherence and reduction of risks.
18.104.22.168 Fire suppression systems used by building operators and safety officers.
It is evident from fire accident investigations that quickfire suppression systems help in reducing deaths and damage to property. A research study on emergency management by Nick Artim illustrates the importance of automatic fire sprinklers in buildings (Artim, 2013). Water is the most common agent used in fire extinguishing. Automatic extinguishing offers immediate control of a combustion that is starting to develop. The damages to human health and property by smoke and heat reduces when the extinguishing emergency response is quick. The high demand for security forces is also reduced when automatic sprinklers are used.
Water mist systems, gas suppression equipment, Foam-extinguishing devices, and chemical extinctions are also used in fire extinguishing. (Caverion, 2011). Most of the suppression systems are guided by the standards of National Fire Protection Associations (NFPA). Several industries are adopting the automated devices to reduce the risks due to human and brigade unreliability. Construction managers are also embracing the automatic suppression technologies to reduce risks due to fire (Artim, 2013). The building architects and electrical designers must, therefore, create allocations for fire extinguishing.
4.4 A study on the critical duties of Construction Safety Officers.
According to Leigh Ann Morgan, the core roles of Safety officers in a construction area are to monitor the workplace and ensure that the all building policies and safety regulations are followed (Morgan, 2009). Their first duty is to develop and draft safety policies for various construction sites depending on their nature. All the building professionals must sign the policy statement with a determination to comply. The CSOs also carry out inspection activities in the workplace to determine the existence of fire and general hazards. All the construction workers must put on their safety wear as required by the officers. In the event of fire accidents, the CFOs carry out investigations to assess the causes of the breakout. They then draft comprehensive reports on contingencies and the ways of mitigating similar events.
For buildings that require protection after completion, the CFOs administer training activities to the users of the building and operators of fire equipment. As a requirement of OSHA, building professionals and machine users must be trained on safety topics by the protection experts. They keep records of accidents involved in their places of work and submit them to OSHA as form 300. They are the link between the government and contractors (Rodriguez, 2017). They conduct emergency response training to occupants of buildings with fire risks.
5 CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In conclusion, the problems of fire breakouts are influenced by several factors from construction design to suppression mechanism. The breakouts often result in loss of lives, injuries, damage to property and interference with the production activities. Massive fire incidents may affect the economy of a country negatively. Safety in a construction site is the number one priority of a Construction Safety Officer. The critical technical professionals in a construction site are the architect, quantity surveyor, the structural engineer, the electrician, and the safety officer. All their duties contribute to the completion of a construction project. They use various equipment in the process to ensure the safety of the buildings they are constructing.
From the research, it is clear that different mechanisms start fire and explosions. Electric faults due to insulation breakdown results to the generation of heat that initiates combustion. Hot works in construction industries are associated with flames and arcs that start ignitions. Careless disposal of burning tobacco components also results to fire situations. Lightning phenomena also contribute to fires due to voltage surges.
Architects play a role in designing buildings with easy accessibility to emergency doors during fire accidents. The structural engineers ensure that all materials used in the construction are not susceptible to fire. They also construct fire assembly areas during development in designated zones to ensure the continued safety of occupants after evicting areas with fire hazards. The mechanical experts also ensure that all their operations in joining components and strengthening materials using hot works are executed in safe zones. The electrical and instrumentation engineers guarantee that all the wiring layouts in a building meet the cable standards to power the connected machines during and after construction. They install fire detection and alarm systems to sense instances of fire and warn the occupants of the risks involved. The experts execute the design of panels for control and communications systems that inform fire brigades about fire accidents. They also install automatic extinguishing systems to protect people and property from developing combustions.
Concerning the Priory Hall Fire Safety issue and the fire outbreak in the Six Timber Frame houses in Ireland, there are critical recommendations that construction professionals should observe. Below are the suggestions:
i. The building experts must adhere to the rules set by government legislators and safety officers concerning the protection standards of the structures they construct. The Ireland construction regulations were not followed by the builders and electricians of Priory Hall. Their ignorance jeopardized the safety of the tenants. The designer of six timber dwellings did not follow the rules set for the type of construction they were undertaking. Their poor fire stoppage deigns thwarted the abilities to save property during the fire.
ii. All the electricians and instrumentation engineers should adopt automatic fire extinguishing systems to in new buildings to reduce the rate of damages during fire accidents. They should follow standards of international bodies such as IEEE to avoid fires caused by electrical faults and lightning strikes.
iii. The Construction Safety Officers should ensure that builders meet all the regulations and standards before allowing tenants and occupants to settle. The operation will reduce the risks of death, injuries, and damage to property.
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