Cases of arson are still commonplace in the construction industry and widely believed to be the number one cause of on-site fires. An ongoing problem requires a proactive defence mechanism, as Adam Kovics, export sales manager – Europe, at wireless solutions firm, Ramtech, explains.
Irreplaceable heritage buildings lost, costs that go through the roof and progress that cannot be recovered – the effects of arson are vast and uniquely upsetting. But these are concerns considered second to the significant potential outcomes of life-changing injuries or even death.
It is no secret that arson continues to be a problem for the UK construction industry, with cases regularly appearing in the news and many more taking place without the same attention or outrage. Latest figures from the Home Office show that between April 2018 and March 2019, fire and rescue services attended 365 fires on building sites in England – increasing from 333 in 2014/15. More generally, the National Fire Chiefs Council reported that arson accounted for more than 50 per cent of all fires attended, a deeply concerning figure.
One of the main reasons why arson is difficult to deal with is because it is impossible to predict and can be either a one-off event or a recurring problem. That being said, an early alert can be the difference between life and death, as well as a small, manageable fire and an out-of-control blaze.
Having an adequate solution in place to detect and respond to outbreaks is essential for all contractors to be responsible on their projects, whether the site is particularly vulnerable to arson due to high fire loading or a known history of vandalism and arson in the area or not. Speculation aside, without a sound, adequate and compliant system in place, there is the potential for disastrous consequences to a project’s timeline, budget, equipment, supplies, and, most importantly, life.
Fortunately, wireless technology is making detection simpler, more efficient and less of a headache for site managers. Proper fire training is as important as ever, but new solutions are being incorporated into this training to increase efficiency and modern fire safety competency.
Although a construction site full of primitive tools and raw materials may seem like an unlikely place to find the latest cloud-based innovations, advances in technology is helping to bring 24/7 safety to sites – protecting them against fire hazards such as arson.
Innovative technology set ups, integrating new technology with other, sometimes older, third-party units now offer detailed insights from smoke and heat detection, which can then be immediately fed through to emergency services, on-site workers and anyone with the connected applications available on mobile devices.
While the construction industry has been moving forward with the adoption of technology in recent years, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend to levels that were never anticipated. Cloud-based systems were able to be quickly implemented, providing a sophisticated and adaptable safety solution for all building sites, regardless of their operational status.
Throughout the pandemic, when construction sites have had less people present than ever before, this connected approach has become even more valuable. If the only person on-site is the instigator of an attempted fire, a connected family of wireless units can instantly “speak” to one another and key personnel – alerting them to the outbreak.
This innovation has given property owners, project supervisors and safety personnel the ability to receive alerts for a variety of events in real-time – helping to prevent unauthorised access, arson and disasters.
Wireless fire systems
Wireless fire alarm systems have advanced greatly over the past few decades and contribute to stopping blazes – whether accidental or deliberate – in their tracks.
Take our WES3 EN54-compliant wireless fire, evacuation, and emergency alarm system as an example; it works simultaneously with our cloud-based REACT platform to deliver real-time alerts 24/7 to a mobile device app and the phonelines of local fire services, preventing a fire from becoming out of control – even out of hours and from a distance.
Furthermore, customisable systems that create bespoke solutions to suit a site’s needs offer accurate, specific, personalised notifications and alerts – making it possible to achieve the goal of comprehensive protection from both internal and external threats on construction sites of all sizes, no matter how unique the needs and no matter the operational status of the project.
Firms that are embracing and adopting connected technologies are already reaping the rewards – being provided with peace of mind that sites have an additional level of health and safety protection, putting construction workers’ minds at ease and their lives in safe hands.
Our customers have no problem managing fire risks with our systems in place and it is a small price to pay for vital alerts. The proactive approach is the way forward and technology is paving the way for a safer future for people and property.