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Ready for action When specifying fire alarm systems for use


in construction and refurbishment sites, there are vital points to consider, says Paul Henson


B


OTH CONSTRUCTION and refurbishment projects feature a number of risks from fire due to the presence of flammable


materials, use of hot works and limited escape routes. It should also be considered that the permanent fire alarm is usually one of the later elements to be installed, along with all the other mechanical and electrical services.


Up until that stage, unless a fire alarm


system is deployed that is especially designed for the rigours of a construction project, the people working on site are not protected by a technology based fire alarm system, but instead rely on people sounding a bell or horn. Set against this is the fact that there are hundreds of fires on construction sites each year, potentially putting the lives of workers, building occupiers and members of the public at risk.


According to Home Office statistics, as


many as 104,000 fires take place on sites throughout England and Wales each year, more than 40% of which are a result of arson. Consider too that in 2016/17, an estimated


609,000 workers sustained a non fatal injury at work, according to the Health and Safety Executive. Of these, 64,000 were non fatal injuries to construction workers, according to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). By main accident type, these were slips,


trips or falls from the same level; injuries while handling, lifting or carrying; falls from height and struck by moving (including flying/falling) objects. Until relatively recently, medical alerts in the event of a person becoming injured and sounding a fi re alarm on site were viewed as separate responses, although both were often based on a basic response mechanism.


In the case of a medical emergency, it


usually involved someone physically seeking a first aider, which might take some time, whilst it was not uncommon for a bell or horn to be manually used to raise a fire alarm. Neither of these was ideal, so we set about developing a technology based system that combined both responses into a single wirelessly based network that would provide suffi cient functionality to distinguish between


28 DECEMBER 2018/JANUARY 2019 www.frmjournal.com


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