Thursday, February 4, 2016
The American Wood Council (AWC) today released three manuals and a website designed to inform developers, local building departments and fire departments on how to prevent and reduce fire losses in buildings under construction.
“This is a timely and relevant topic, in large part due to the significant impacts large construction fires have” said AWC Director of Fire Technology Kuma Sumathipala. “More importantly, the fires that have occurred were preventable by adhering to the best practices outlined in these materials.” He added further.
A series of three manuals were developed in a cooperative effort between AWC and FireforceOne, a consulting firm led by former California State Fire Marshall Ronny Coleman. The manuals are:
• Basic Fire Precautions during Construction of Large Buildings – applies to the design and planning stages, as well as the actual construction of buildings.
• Hot Work during Construction of Large Buildings – describes best management practices of hot work, which is likely to reduce the occurrence of large loss fires more than any other specific topic with buildings under construction.
• Fire Department’s Role in Prevention and Suppression of Fires during Construction of Large Buildings – outlines pre-fire planning for large building projects, and prepares tactics and strategy for a fire if it occurs.
“The trend and pattern of these types of fires show an increasing percentage are resulting in large financial losses. Our research into the causes and outcomes of these fires point to the need for more construction-site accountability and enforcement of existing fire and building codes in order to minimize the risks,” said AWC President & CEO Robert Glowinski.
“AWC listened attentively to the discussion that occurred during the ICC roundtable and the recommendations that resulted. They responded with an outstanding website, which contains many educational resources for all construction site workers and visitors. In order to achieve the desired results, several recommendations in the roundtable report will require developers, builders and governmental agencies to take action,” said Safer Buildings Coalition Executive Director Alan Perdue, who was the ICC roundtable moderator.
In 2014, the International Code Council (ICC) convened a series of roundtables to engage members and multi-disciplinary stakeholders in a discussion about emerging safety issues. One such roundtable discussion focused on fires in multi-story buildings under construction. Prior to the ICC roundtables, AWC and FireforceOne had established a working group of international stakeholders with diverse perspectives on construction site fire safety to guide development of these materials.
“The willingness to share information and to pursue best management practice discussions among the stakeholders was extraordinary,” said Coleman. “These manuals and the other educational tools developed contain the best thinking of an experienced group from across the building community. We strongly encourage planners, developers and builders to use these materials with their employees, staff and subcontractors to increase fire safety at large building construction sites.” He concluded.