What is a fire safety inspection in construction?
In construction, a fire safety inspection is conducted to ensure a project meets all National Fire Protection Association codes and standards.
While the exact regulations may vary depending on a structure’s location and purpose, most fire safety inspections confirm the functionality and proper installation of fire alarm systems, fire suppression systems, and exit routes.
Who conducts a construction fire safety inspection?
A fire marshal or other government representative ultimately needs to approve your project at some point before it is opened for public use. However, construction companies often conduct their own internal fire safety inspections to make sure they’re prepared for official review or keeping their employees safe while a project is in progress.
Inspecting the finished project
The larger and more complex a structure is, the more complicated fire safety becomes. When working on large-scale projects you’ll likely employ several different subcontractors that each handle a different aspect of the project, and sometimes their work will relate directly or indirectly to fire safety. For example, your HVAC subcontractors are not fire safety specialists, but they may need to coordinate with your fire alarm subcontractor if their systems will be integrated.
A fire safety inspection helps General Contractors organize fire safety for the project as a whole, correcting mistakes and misunderstandings before the project is inspected for government approval.
Inspecting the work area
A GC may also want to conduct an internal fire safety inspection to make sure their crew is kept safe while working on a building or structure. They’ll review exit routes, identify potential hazards, and closely inspect fire extinguishers, alarm systems, and any other fire safety tools that are installed on the jobsite.
Fire safety inspection steps
Following these steps to conduct a proper internal fire safety inspection:
Verify fire alarm testing
Review exit routes and paths of egress
Research jurisdiction rules
Use a fire safety inspection checklist
1. Verify fire alarm testing
The GC should check with the fire alarm system subcontractor to make sure all the necessary testing has taken place. This includes verification of the alarm system’s functionality, organizational system, and battery testing.
2. Review exit routes and signage
In the case of a finished project, review that all exit routes are property installed. Does the structure meet exit route standards, and are all routes labeled with the proper signage? Are features like automatic locks and panic bars installed properly if necessary?
If you are inspecting the worksite, make sure all paths of egress are clearly marked and clean of debris or obstacles.
Fire alarm and suppression systems should also be clearly labeled and easily accessed.
3. Research jurisdiction rules
Use the fire safety inspection as a chance to review the laws of your local jurisdiction.
Fire safety laws can vary depending on the nature of your project and the service area, so research is often needed to ensure you’re following the right standards.
4. Use a fire safety inspection checklist
Using a checklist makes inspections easier. You won’t forget crucial steps and you can follow a predetermined workflow.