Townhouse complex fire in Reno, NV - Photo courtesy of Reno Gazette Journal
Two massive fires in the last ten days occurred at residential complexes under construction, reinforcing the critical importance of following the fire and life safety requirements and guidelines addressed in NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration, and Demolition Operation.
Most recently, a fire at a six-story townhouse complex occurred in Reno, NV, early Thursday morning, resulting in the destruction of the majority of buildings under construction, according to local news reports. The Reno Fire Department confirmed that 14 of the 21 buildings were either destroyed or damaged.
On July 16, a fire at one of two apartment buildings under construction in Everett, WA, reportedly spread throughout the structure, igniting nearby homes, decks and cars. While the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, fire investigators reportedly stated that the findings so far do not suggest criminal activity.
Both fires reflect the latest in a series of significant fires in buildings under construction in recent years. While NFPA 241 works to mitigate the factors that often contribute to such incidents, several processes and procedures must be strictly implemented and followed for them to be effective.
NFPA offers a series of resources around buildings under construction to help contractors, building owners and managers, code official and enforcers, and AHJs better understand the requirements and guidelines within NFPA 241, and to more effectively ensure that all parties involved in the construction process have the tools and support to adequately adhere to them. Most recently, we created a new fact sheet that provides statistical data around the frequency, causes, and financial impact of associated fires.
Similarly, as COVID-19 has delayed many building projects already underway and, in some instances, forced construction sites to be left unattended for extended periods of time, comparable concerns around elevated fire risks have been raised. For the most up-to-date information from NFPA regarding fire and life safety in the midst of COVID-19, check out https://www.nfpa.org/coronavirus