Every construction site in Australia needs to have a fire extinguisher on site, both for legal purposes and to ensure the safety of the workers on the site. There are many easy ways for a fire to break out during construction work, such as metal sparks catching wood alight, chemical explosions etc., and without a fire extinguisher you could have a serious problem on your hards.
We’re going break down the key reasons why every construction site needs a fire extinguisher.
By taking the necessary precautions you can make sure you’re running a safe, secure construction site and save yourself and your construction business from what could be potentially hefty series of fines.
It’s important to protect your construction site
Construction sites, by their nature, have a lot of machinery that could start accidental fires.
In such an event, you want to make sure you’re ready to deal with it. When left unattended a small fire could become a blazing catastrophe, so minimising the damage quickly could save the construction site, your workers and your business.
It’s also a health concern, and you want your workers to know that they’re operating in a safe place, with the right equipment ready just in case something goes wrong. An onsite fire extinguisher ensures you’re in the best possible position to protect your worksite from any accidental fires.
You’re required to have them by law
By law, it is illegal not to have a fire extinguisher on site. According to Australian Standard 2444-2001, as governed by the National Construction Code of Australia 2012, commercial premises and public meeting places are required to provide fire extinguishers.
The City of Sydney, for example, performs regular fire safety audits where a failure to have a working fire extinguisher on your site can lead to a range of penalties, including fines starting from a hefty $1,000. Further investigations could also cost you more if operations are slowed down on site.
Your fire extinguisher checklist
When you’re getting a fire extinguisher for your construction site, it’s important to make sure you check the following boxes.
- Have you provided the sufficient number of fire extinguishers for your site? Larger sites will require more than one extinguisher.
- Are the fires extinguishers of the correct size and type? Dependant on the environment and potential category of fires that could be caused, select the appropriate extinguisher with nozzle type and capacity.
- Are the fires extinguishers clearly located and securely mounted to the wall? In the event of a fire, distractions will be plenty so it is vital that your fire extinguishers are clearly located and easy to access.
- Have you used your fire extinguisher any time in the last six month period? If not, it is likely that the trigger could become stuck. Regularly conduct maintenance checks to see if it is in full capacity and in working order. According to Australian standards, fire extinguishers are certified by the council every six months to ensure that they’re in working order.
Do your staff know how to handle a fire extinguisher?
When was the last time you ran a safety drill? It is important to find out sooner rather than later if your staff are capable of handling an extinguisher in the event of an actual fire. Using one isn’t really rocket science, and research highlights that after attending one training session, up to 90% of people learned how to properly handle one. Basic training sessions held on site or through third party providers could greatly improve the level of safety and confidence. This promotes a better safety on site and makes sure you tick all compliance boxes.
It’s interesting to note that 80% of 2100 fire incidents surveyed by the Fire Extinguishing Trades Association (FETA) were sorted out without the help of a fire department due to the presence of portable fire extinguishers on site.
What sort of fire extinguisher do I need?
The four major types that are available include water, foam spray, dry powder and carbon dioxide.
It’s also important to consider getting multiple fire extinguishers to suit different potential fire types that could occur on your construction site. A water fire extinguisher is good for wood, paper or textile fires, but if you need extinguishing around electrical equipment a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher is the way to go. Foam and powder fire extinguishers are also options to consider.
Match the extinguisher based on the type of material that is predominantly used on site. For example, a dry fire extinguisher should not be used indoors as it can cause asphyxiation. It’s a good idea to however have all three on site to ensure safety.
Getting a fire extinguisher for your site should be a top priority to further enhance the quality of safety on your site and ensure that you are meeting all relevant council compliance requirements.