How to write an NFPA 241 Construction Fire Safety Plan.

So, you have to write a 241 Plan. If you think, “I have no idea where to begin,” then you’re ahead of the people out there who are still trying not to think about it. You’re in the right place; I’m going to walk you through it.

For starters, purchase a copy of the Standard or view it “read only” for free at nfpa.org/241 . It’s a relatively small document, and for most projects there are only about 6 pages that would be considered required reading when writing the plan.

NFPA cover

Chapters 1,2, & 3 are administrative so we’ll begin with chapter 4. Let’s get started…

Temporary Construction Elements and Equipment [Chapter 4].

This means items such as shanties, shacks, sheds used for contractor storage, offices, break rooms, or bathrooms. It will also cover tarps, plastic films, floor protection, and anything used to protect or enclose areas. You should also look at any equipment being used, such as temporary heaters or generators. After determining which elements or equipment you’ll have on your project, you will need to remedy any of the inherent issues referenced in the standard or otherwise. Most remedies will include proper fastening, fire rated (and permitted) materials, exhausting, separation distances, and properly located extinguishers.

EXAMPLE:

Condition: Building will be enclosed with tarps.

Remedy: Tarps will be securely fastened and flame resistant and checked daily for damage caused by wind or otherwise.

spot extinguisher
Here’s a temporary subcontractor field office protected by a spot fire extinguisher.

Processes and Hazards [Chapter 5]

Let’s group these into topics.

Hot Work: This will be in accordance with NFPA 51B. You’ll address the type of hot work that will be performed on the job, including the specific hazards associated with that work, how you will permit the tasks (both municipal and internal), and the need for fire watch(es). Note: Fire watch needs to stay 30 minutes after the work is completed. This extends to two hours after torch-applied roofing operations. In Massachusetts the fire watch needs to be certified as specified in 527 CMR.

Temporary Heating: Specify any type of temporary heating systems you’ll be using. Address all the risks mentioned in chapter 5. The most common include securing, exhausting, qualifications & method for refueling, permitting, electrical, and maintenance.Temp Heat

Smoking: While some jurisdictions may allow smoking in designated areas with proper receptacles, the best practice is to have no smoking on site.

Waste Disposal: This tends to be a hurdle for many companies, but the Standard requires that combustible waste should be removed from the structure at the end of each work shift or sooner if necessary. You should address the timetable for removal of combustible debris and storage of materials susceptible to spontaneous ignition. If using a trash chute it shall be non combustible (see standard for details on trash chute plans, etc.).

Flammable and Combustible Liquids and Flammable Gases: List all being used on site, and address proper storage including items such as: limits on quantities, permitting, location and condition of storage area, signage, containers, safe disposal, and handling. For explosive materials, see Standard.

fuel storage
Here’s a pretty solid example of a fuel storage condition in an urban environment.

Utilities [Chapter 6]

Address the maintenance of electrical devices and cords. This includes temporary electric, which covers items such as grounding, guards on lighting, splicing, and immediate removal of temporary wiring upon completion.

Fire Protection [Chapter 7]

The bulk of chapter 7 should be covered on a Site Plan * and Pre-fire Plan.**  Address site security in conjunction with the AHJ, and cover topics such a training of guard service, site fencing, and technology used to protect the site (cameras, sensors, etc.).pexels-photo-416405.jpeg

Safeguarding Construction and Alteration Operations [Chapter 8]

Chapter 8 is a bit of a “catch all” but it calls for you to address storage, accelerated installation, and temporary separation walls.

In terms of storage, consider construction materials and equipment, including scaffolding, shoring, and forms. Address the accumulation of combustibles– forms, planks, packing materials, building materials and the like. Storage shall not be permitted inside a non-protected structure.

Accelerated installation applies to the following systems:

  • Permanent heating equipment
  • Fire cutoffs (fire walls, rated doors and hardware, etc.)
  • Water supply
  • Fire protection/sprinkler protection

You should plan your job according to the requirements listed for each of these systems and specify them within you plan.

Finally, if you have an occupied area it needs to be separated by a temporary separation wall with at least a one hour rating.  If there is a code-compliant sprinkler system installed then the wall can be non-rated. Remember, the sprinkler system in the construction area should be fully functioning and not impaired.

This chapter also outlines requirements for installation of gas, standpipes, and sprinkler systems (including requirements for phased occupancies).

Chapters 9, 10, & 11

These are more specialized or prescriptive chapters covering roofing, demolition, and underground operations, respectively. Therefore, if your job has any of these types of construction then you should reference those chapters and respond accordingly by detailing the products and/or methods you will be using.

 

That pretty much sums it up, if you still need help with your plan please feel free to email me joe@massconstruction.org and we’ll be happy to help.

 

* Site Plan – Should include; fire department access, command post location, hydrants, Siamese connections/standpipes, site fencing, fuel storage location, fire fighting access and egress, hoists or elevators, First-Aid and Fire-Fighting Equipment, and the like.

** Pre-Fire Plan – Here is a decent document on pre-fire plans to get you started.

 

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