I recently worked with the Fire Risk Assessment Network. Here is an overview of what they do.
Do you know what fire safety consultants actually do for work? You might think they just keep things from burning down or getting set on fire, but it’s not as simple as that. Without them around keeping an eye out for people and places, lives and property would get lost needlessly to accidents and mistakes that they prevent. Their work occurs before and during building construction, continues during a building’s existence and even happens outside of permanent buildings as well.
Fire safety consultants start their work long before any building or structure even has the groundbreaking ceremony or first hole dug. Architects and property planners work with fire safety consultants at the design stage. These consultants are there from the start to advise on a wide variety of details, most of which have to do with local municipal, county or state ordinances and building codes.
These laws, rules and regulations exist to make sure that new structures are built to be fire-resistant and allow room enough for both evacuations of people inside and room for fire services to approach a burning structure safely yet quickly. Fire safety consultants are familiar with all these rules and red tape, and consult with architects to make sure that the designs they lay out can actually be constructed, both for the safety of future occupants and also to help the builders avoid fines and delays from government inspectors. This also irons out the permit process.
Once construction does begin, fire safety consultants have twice the workload they had during a consultation and design phase. They must assist builders with making sure the building going up will be safe in or from a fire, but also make sure that the work site itself minimizes the dangers of fire during construction.
Construction fires can happen for many reasons. A chaotic work scene with hazardous chemicals, power tools, sources of flame and sparks, and piles of combustible raw materials all make the perfect breeding ground for a fire to start. Even if it is contained quickly and no one gets hurt, construction is delayed at best. At worst, there can be injuries, fatalities, cost overruns, and insurance claims and premiums.
Fire safety consultants don’t just look out for the workers involved in the project though, as they also think about the people that will be in the building after it’s done. They make sure that construction materials that are fire-resistant are used, and that there are actually fire exits, extinguishers and sprinkler systems put in place like the designs call for. They’ll even analyze the surrounding landscape for fire hazards to protect the building from external fire threats.
Once a building does exist, the consultant’s job doesn’t end. Fire exits, signs, containment systems and extinguishers are all checked periodically. Evacuation routes and plans are drawn up, printed and posted everywhere, and workers or occupants of the building are trained and briefed on them.
New structures aren’t the only ones that get the attention of fire safety consultants. Older structures can be fire hazards for using older materials or being built to looser codes, if any at all. Consultants can always come in and look a place over to make recommendations on how to minimize the chances of a fire event damaging the structure.
Even without making serious structural changes to a home or building, a good fire safety consultant can make specific suggestions on the newest sprinkler and fire prevention systems. Even choices of new rugs, flooring, furniture and paint can drastically minimize the chances of a fire starting or raging through a home or building. The right professional can show you exactly where sprinklers, extinguishers and smoke detectors should be, as well as how to operate and maintain them.
Fire safety consultants also deal with public gatherings of temporary places, not just buildings. These are usually one-time events like concerts, festivals, parades and even sometimes peaceful protests. Any large gathering of people becomes a concern if there is a fire, even outside. If the density of individuals is too thick for a quick evacuation, any local concentration of smoke can mean respiratory damage, death or a possible stampede.
The next time you ask yourself just what do fire safety consultants do, you know. They make sure that future construction projects are done so with the latest safety rules and laws in mind, and then see to it that structures are built safely both for the construction workers and future occupants. A fire safety consultant can also walk through any older building to make it safer, and see to it that your favorite festival or concert is a fun and safe one where the fireworks you enjoy don’t burn the place down.