How Can Construction Site Fires Affect The Health of the Public?
A fire which breaks out on a construction site will usually only be a risk to the workers and visitors on the site at the time. However there may be times when construction site fires have the potential to kill or injure members of the public who are situated outside of the site boundaries. Site managers not only have a responsibility for the health and safety of those on site, but also to members of the public who could have their health affected by the site.
The most obvious danger is the spread of fire. Whilst it may not be much of an issue if the works are taking place on a site which is in a remote location with no surrounding buildings, a large number of construction activities take place in built up areas where other buildings may be located close by or even adjoining the premises which is being worked on. In these situations it will not take much for the fire to spread, particularly if there is a strong wind which blows the fire in that direction.
Fires can also lead to explosions such as gas explosions which can damage or destroy nearby buildings. If this were to happen, the falling roof timbers and collapsing walls can easily kill or severely injure the occupants of those buildings.
Although the consequences of an explosion can be extremely damaging, it will usually only affect those buildings which are in close proximity to the site. A more wide reaching effect and so a danger with the potential to affect the health of a much greater number of people are fires which occur on sites which have hazardous chemicals or substances present. These can escape into the atmosphere or nearby watercourses and cause illness or be fatal to people living in a large radius from the site, sometimes incorporating whole towns which may need to be evacuated. For example, a fire at a construction works building a second reactor at a nuclear power station could cause damage to the first reactor, which may have serious repercussions for anyone situated for miles around.