On Wednesday, June 28th, in Dorchester, MA a fire ripped through the top floor of a building that was under construction to be condos and apartments. This building was still unoccupied, it was set to open in July, and has 83 units, sprinklers were not yet turned on, which did contribute to the fire getting out of control.
With recent fires like this one in Dorchester also occurring in Maplewood, NJ, Raleigh, NC as well as in Overland, KS, there is a need to safeguard against fires during construction. Standards like NFPA 241: Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration and Demolition Operations. NFPA 241 is referenced in both NFPA 1: Fire Code and the International Fire Code.
NFPA 241, in particular, ensures that fire safety standards are maintained throughout the construction, demolition or alteration process. It requires building owners and / or facility managers to create a construction fire safety program and even designate a fire prevention manager, who can oversee all fire-prevention efforts during the construction phase.
Here are some of the key considerations in NFPA 241:
- The development of a program that includes on-site security, fire protection systems, organization and training of a fire brigade, and the establishment of a pre-fire plan with the local fire department.
- The owner / facility manager is required to appoint a person who is responsible for the fire prevention program and ensure that it is carried out to completion. This individual will have knowledge of the applicable fire protection standards, available fire protection systems, and fire inspection procedures. Where guard service is provided, the fire prevention program manager will be responsible for that guard service. The role entails many other responsibilities including weekly self-inspections and records management, adequate provision of fire protection devices and maintenance of such equipment, proper training in the use of fire protection equipment and the supervision of the permit system.
While, the building is not a total loss, and there are plans to rebuild as soon as possible, the financial implications and loss could be reduced with the implementation of NFPA 241.
Stay tuned for the launch of NFPA’s Online Learning Modules on NFPA 241, coming in September 2017.