Report: NFPA's "Fires in Structures Under Construction or Renovation"
Author: Richard Campbell
Issued: February 2020
- Local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 3,840 fires in structures under construction and 2,580 fires in structures under major renovation per year in 2013-2017.
- Three of every four fires in structures under construction involved residential properties.
- Cooking equipment is the leading cause of fires on construction sites, while electrical distribution and lighting equipment was the leading cause of fires in structures under major renovation.
- The fires in structures under construction caused an average of four civilian deaths, 49 civilian injuries, and $304 million in direct property damage annually, while those in structures under major renovation caused averages of eight civilian deaths, 52 civilian injuries, and $104 million in direct property damage annually.
NFPA codes & standards
Many large and costly fires involving buildings under construction underscore the need for more widespread use of NFPA 241, Standard for Safeguarding Construction, Alteration and Demolition Operations, to address a range of related hazards.
Multiple large-scale fires have occurred at construction sites in 2017, resulting in multi-millions dollar losses - both in direct property damage and losses beyond the structure of origin. Many, if not all, of these incidents could have been prevented with the safeguards included in NFPA 241.
Every building construction site is unique and presents its own set of challenges. No matter the scope of the job, there are different variables that can impact fire prevention and safety that only increase with the size and complexity of the project. To avoid hazards that could lead to fire, accidents, and injury, it’s critical workers, managers, and owners understand their roles and be proactive and vigilant in staying up to date with the latest knowledge and protocols.
NFPA® provides high-impact training in how to mitigate construction site fire risks based on the latest requirements and criteria. Featured courses for personnel responsible for maintaining fire safety on construction sites include:
From NFPA Journal®
- Massive fires in buildings under construction have public safety and fire service officials alarmed. What can be done to prevent these destructive blazes? Read "Danger: Construction" from the September/October 2017 issue of NFPA Journal.
- The arson issue: take steps to protect buildings under construction against arson. Read '24/7 If Necessary' from the September/October 2017 issues of NFPA Journal.
- Read the May/June 2017 NFPA Journal feature, “Hot Work, Safe Work,” on the lessons learned from the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board’s review of hot work incidents.
- The March/April 2017 NFPA Journal article, “Burned Again,” reported on fires in properties being built by AvalonBay in New Jersey.