At Howler, we put life safety first. We create hard-wearing, effective and reliable fire safety solutions based on real challenges experienced by real people.

The development of the ProLink® fire alarm system signifies another huge step in our dedication to protecting buildings, people and projects. Find out more about the ultimate professional fire alarm system below.

Creating the ProLink® — TOP TEN FEATURES

Howler has been on a journey of continuous product development since we designed the world’s first battery-operated site alarm over 20 years ago.

All Howler alarms are designed to work in real-life situations. Our team challenged themselves to design a new temporary fire alarm system that would revolutionise workers’ lives on construction sites everywhere.

We assembled a diverse team with specialist knowledge and combined years of experience with customer suggestions and needs.

Users consistently stated they wanted the following from fire safety solutions:

  • Speed of set-up
  • Ease of use
  • Reliability
  • Durability
  • Good battery life
  • Flexibility & compatibility
  • Self-monitoring
  • Straightforward maintenance
  • Visibility
  • Compliance

All of these features (and more) make up the powerful design and functionality of the ProLink®. It’s the fire alarm designed by the people FOR the people (with a bit of help from some radio gurus!).

ProLink fire point

What makes ProLink® unique?

The ProLink® is a new-generation fire and warning system that’s simple, compliant and sustainable.

ProLink® is a completely unique, battery-operated fire alarm system that can be rapidly deployed in situations where a hard-wired fire alarm system is not appropriate. Although this fire alarm system was primarily designed for construction site use, it can be used in many other environments, including outdoor events, exhibitions and workplaces, e.g. landfill sites, campsites, marinas and even ships undergoing refurbishment.

It can also be installed as a temporary measure when the hard-wired fire alarm system in a building is being replaced or rewired.

The radio-linked fire alarm system utilises a flexible network hierarchy to monitor every station continuously at incredibly low power. So, even though the stations are constantly chatting away to each other, the bespoke dual-battery pack is good for three years of continuous use.

Why industry professionals choose ProLink®

COMPLIANT. SIMPLE. SUSTAINABLE. Three words that define ProLink®.

ProLink® meets the requirements of BS EN 54 and BS 5839-1, including a 400-second loss of communication warning and two independent power supplies.

The alarm system and setup are incredibly simple for convenience on site. The unique slider backplate and user-friendly indicator station make ProLink® a completely user-friendly system focused on reducing labour time and improving efficiency.

The 3-year battery warranty and ultra-tough construction increase the lifetime of the ProLink®, and our reprocessing scheme minimises environmental impact. We don’t just make solutions for now. Howler makes solutions for the future.

By choosing ProLink®, you’re choosing a fire safety solution you can trust to work when it matters most. However, you’re also choosing a fire alarm system that cuts out the hassle and issues associated with many other fire alarm systems on the market, e.g. short battery life, hard to install, unresponsive.

temporary fire alarm systems

The specifications and features of ProLink®

All construction sites and locations are different, so you need adaptable fire safety solutions and systems. The ProLink® range is split into multiple variations, including an indicator station, alert station, automatic detection system and a relay station.

Indicator station

  • Large LCD display for good visibility
  • One-push ‘hot keys’ for all the most important commands
  • Interface PCB for connecting to other systems and devices such as an auto-dialler
  • Continual fault monitoring gives a warning within 400 seconds if any station loses connection with the system
  • 3-year battery pack with two independent power sources
  • Class V0 flame-retardant ABS plastic enclosure
  • Tough ABS plastic casing, ergonomically designed for maximum robustness

Howler alert system

  • Illuminated buttons and LED indicators make the product easy to see. Symbols and colours make the station visible at range and in low light
  • Optional anti-tamper switch cover triggers a local alarm when lifted
  • Key components are internal to reduce the risk of damage/vandalism
  • Rear access battery compartment. 3-year battery pack with two independent power sources
  • Tough ABS plastic casing makes the product robust — additional flame-retardant Class V0 enclosure
  • The optional backplate makes it easy to install. Intelligent design makes it easy to maintain
  • 100dBA sounder with optional flashing/visual indicators

Automatic detection

  • Ceiling-mounted heat and smoke detectors offer early warning of fire
  • Patented dust chamber in the smoke detector reduces false alarms
  • Optional base sounder with volume adjustment
  • Optional high-intensity visual flashing LED indicators
  • Tough ABS plastic casing
  • White ABS reduces the visual impact in office environments
  • Optional sliding backplate makes installation quick and simple
  • Tamper switch on rear alerts indicator station if the device is messed with
  • 3-year battery pack with two independent power sources

Relay station

  • Highly versatile relay station enables you to interface with other systems
  • Suitable for interfacing with:
    1. – Autodiallers for out-of-hours alerts
    1. – Turnstiles for automatic release in an emergency
    1. – Other fire alarm systems
    1. – Access control systems for automatic release in an emergency

Choose ProLink® for life safety confidence

Put life safety first and stay compliant on site with ProLink®. Talk to the Howler team today for more information on 0330 7000 777 or email [email protected].

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Equipment rental on construction sites is part of every project. It’s convenient, cost-effective, risk-free and enables companies to invest in their core business without having to worry about managing a fleet of equipment. It’s also better for the world around us; as the European Rental Association (ERA) confirm, ‘Rental is an inherently circular and sustainable model’.

The ERA goes on to explain that ‘the rental industry by definition operates in a circular business model. It fulfils all of the circular economy principles and, by doing so, minimises the negative environmental impact of equipment.’ So, let’s take a look at the core principles of a circular business model and what they mean:

1. Shared usage

During its life, a piece of equipment will typically have periods of inaction – either at different phases during the works or between different projects. By using rental equipment, construction companies and other rental customers can effectively ‘share’ access to the same equipment. This practice of shared use vastly improves the efficiency of every piece of equipment, which ultimately generates fewer carbon emissions than using multiple pieces of equipment.

2. Repair vs replace

To maximise the ROI on any piece of equipment, rental companies will focus on the durability and repairability of every item. From the initial product design through to routine maintenance, the priority will always be to repair damaged equipment rather than replace. This not only extends the life cycle of the product but also ensures that it’s operating at optimum efficiency throughout its life.

3. Expert support

Regular engagement with the equipment will ensure the maintenance teams are properly equipped to address technical issues effectively, optimising the performance of every piece of equipment throughout its life.

4. Reusability

Properly managed, rental equipment never ‘dies’, as the individual components can be reused even if the whole unit has reached the end of its life. Reusing and repurposing materials is a core component of any hire company’s sustainability model.

5. Recycling

Rental companies take care of their equipment through repairs, when it is still possible, and recycling, when it is at the end of its life cycle. By controlling the whole distribution process and by retaining ownership, rental companies are uniquely placed to effectively manage any end-of-life processes required.

6. Lower carbon emissions

An independent research study commissioned by ERA on the carbon footprint of construction equipment has demonstrated that the rental business model stimulates the efficient use of equipment and that this efficient use lowers the total carbon footprint. Depending on specific user practice, this can lead to significant reductions in the range of 30 – 50%.

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In this blog, we go back to basics and review some of the most commonly used Fire Alarm systems for construction sites.

To start with, let’s recap on why a fire alarm system is needed on a construction site.  Firstly it’s about life safety – there’s a simple message if there’s a fire; GET OUT! Secondly, it’s there to help protect property; so, the sooner we’re alerted of a fire, the sooner it can be dealt with, minimising damage to the building.

Fire safety standards and fire alarm warning systems 

The HSG168 and the JCOP provide clear guidance on fire risks and fire warning systems, summarised as follows:

Fire Safety on Construction Sites (HSG168)

HSG168 is a document published by the HSE aimed at those with a role in developing and managing construction sites, including clients and designers. It is relevant to all construction projects, including small refurbishment sites and explains how everyone involved in construction projects can comply with their legal duties relating to fire risks.

HSG168 states, “The aim of any fire warning system is to ensure that people on the site are alerted to make their escape before a fire becomes life-threatening. The essential requirements of the fire warning signal are that it is distinctive, clearly audible above any other noise and is recognised by all the people on site.”

It further comments, “The sophistication of the method of giving warning of fire will vary from site to site… it is expected on the majority of sites that an inter-connecting (could be wired-in or wireless) system of call points and sounders will be required to provide an effective fire warning system.”

Automatic detection is recommended only on “high-risk sites or in temporary accommodation units (TAUs) such as site offices if there are locations where a fire might occur and develop unnoticed until it threatens people’s means of escape.” ‘High-risk’ sites include timber-frame buildings or those of a largely combustible nature.

Fire Prevention on Construction Sites (Joint Code of Practice)

The Joint Code of Practice (JCOP) is widely recognised and highly regarded. It applies to activities carried out prior to and during the procurement, construction and design process. The objective of the code is the prevention of fires on construction sites.

Most fires can be prevented by designing out risks, taking simple precautions and by adopting safe working practices. The code is concerned with providing a bench03k for fire safety on behalf of insurance companies. In other words, it is interested in protecting property and people.

The JCOP states, “On all sites, a means of giving warning of fire must be established. Certain sites, by their size and nature, may require a temporary hardwired linked system operated from call points.” (Section 8.1).

It also notes that “Electronic alarms are preferable to manual provisions”.

The JCOP is more specific in its requirements for site accommodation blocks, including site placement and interrogating whether their position threatens other buildings in the event of a fire. The JCOP should be read in conjunction with all current legislation and HSG168.

In reference to the aforementioned codes and documents, a fire alarm needs to:

  • Be heard by everyone on site
  • Be fast and simple to activate
  • Be highly visible
  • Provide detection where the building is timber-framed

Which fire alarm is suitable for your construction site?

There are many types and models of fire alarms available on the 03ket, and knowing which can support your site the best in the event of a fire is essential.

Some of the best products for construction sites are featured below (product effectiveness is relative to site specifications).

Description Most applicable to: Guide Cost per unit: Can include detection (for timber-framed buildings)?
Rotary Hand Bell This basic method of manual alarm system relies on an operator spinning the handle to make a noise – hence the rather apt nickname of ‘Turn & Burn’ alarms. Nowhere.   Seriously – there’s no good reason to use these alarms on a construction site. £25-£50 No
Air Horn Similarly, to the rotary hand bell, this method relies on an operator holding down the trigger to maintain the alarm noise – so they are very limited in application. In some circumstances, it could be used as a basic alert system that is carried by an individual – but is not suitable for full site protection. £15-£25 No
Battery Operated Standalone Alarms A ‘hit and run’ alarm that is activated by a single push button and remains on until deactivated but is not linked to other alarms. Introduced as a safer alternative to a manually operated alarm system. Small ‘open’ sites where the noise of a single alarm can be heard in all areas of the site. £35-£75 Yes, but not normally offered as standard
Battery Operated Linked Alarms (wired) A group of battery-operated alarms that are hardwired together to form a system – when any alarm unit is activated the entire system will sound. Any site where hardwiring the units together is practical and preferred to radio linking (e.g. a high-security location where radio transmission is particularly challenging/not possible). £50-£75 Yes, but not normally offered as standard
Battery Operated Linked Alarms (Hub & Spoke) A simple wireless radio linked system where a master unit is positioned centrally and subsidiary units all connect to the master unit. When any alarm unit is activated, the entire system will sound. The system is limited in range, as all units need to ‘talk’ to the master hub unit. Small to medium-sized sites where the relatively limited signal range constraints are still suitable to cover the entire site area. £175-£250 Yes, but not normally offered as standard
Battery Operated Linked Alarms (Radio) The most advanced alarm system is linked together via a radio ‘mesh’ network – meaning the system can cover large areas. The entire system will sound if any alarm unit is activated (or just a selected ‘zone’ depending on the set-up). All major construction sites. The systems can be designed to suit virtually any application – and are typically where the most recent innovations are available such as continuous fault monitoring, cloud monitoring, and dual first-aid/fire alert systems. Systems generally require installation and maintenance by a trained specialist. £300-£500 Yes
BS5839 Conventional Fire Alarm system Conventional fire alarm system as designed for use within permanent installations. Site accommodation – where within 10 m of either the building under construction or any other permanent buildings. See white paper. Can vary significantly between projects. Yes

Howler UK provides a wide range of top-quality fire alarms that are specifically designed to meet the demands and dangers of construction sites. So no matter the size of your site, we have a solution that will solve your challenges with efficiency and confidence.

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Coming up soon (20-26 September 2021) is Fire Door Safety Week: Shutting the Door on Fire and Smoke. The aim is to raise awareness of how important both correct installation and correct maintenance are in making sure fire doors will perform effectively in the event of a fire.

It’s not just the door itself, but the frame, hardware, intumescent seals, closers and signage all work together to create a formidable barrier to fire and smoke. Get just one thing wrong and it could be disastrous.

Watch this video which gives an insight into what a correctly fitted fire door will look like and also shows a live test of two doors: both fire doors, but one correctly fitted and the other not.

Click here to access the BWF Fire Door Alliance Best Practice Guide to Fire Doors and Fire Doorsets

For more advice on fire safety compliance get in touch with our knowledgeable team on +44 (0)330 7000 777 or [email protected]. With 30 years of experience, we can help you keep up with all of the rules and regulations and ensure that you achieve compliance as quickly and effectively as possible.

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Big Switch?  What’s the deal?

Well, let’s take a step back and just recap on what Safetyhub is all about. Simply put, SafetyHub is fast becoming the ‘best practice’ product for all major building sites. Why? Because it’s putting fire safety firmly on the list as an item that needs to be right, every time

If you’re someone that doesn’t want to cut corners and you really want to put safety first then you’ll ‘get it’. SafetyHub is the only truly mobile, self-contained and highly visible site unit for fire safety (And first aid and spill kit if you want to go for the belt & braces option).   It’s a fire point you can be proud of – not something tucked out the way and thrown in the skip halfway through the job!  A fire point that will clearly show just how seriously your company takes fire safety

Ok, got it.  100%.  But…what does it cost and how do I convince my commercial team to invest in it when we already have good stocks of the old-style fire points? 

Well, that’s Big Switch in a nutshell. We want to make SafetyHub accessible to anyone who may be struggling to re-invest when they already have a stock of traditional units so we’re offering a simple buy-back programme for existing units

Pop your details here and we’ll reach out to discuss the nitty gritty and work to get you on board and move you to the next level of site fire safety

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We know construction sites are very dynamic environments, with changes happening daily.  These changes affect not only the audibility of the fire alarm system but also the travel distances to fire points in the event of a fire, the number and type of extinguishers required and the wireless signal between devices.

As well as being fast-paced, sites can also be harsh environments where survival isn’t easy!  With moving plant equipment and materials, damage can occur that impacts the effectiveness of the fire warning system.

Hence the need for routine checks of the escape routes, fire extinguishers, fire points and fire warning system.

What fire protection equipment do I need on-site?

Initially, obviously, the important thing is having the right equipment in the right places and adequate emergency systems in place. For guidance on how to conduct your site risk assessment, and assess what equipment you’ll need, download our Emergency Procedures & Fire Protection on Construction Sites document.

Full guidance on exactly what equipment is required for varying size sites and specific risks is given in HSG168 Fire Safety in Construction, downloadable directly from HSE.  As this document is rather long, we have produced a series of posts explaining the basics covered by HSG168 – we suggest you read these to give you a general overview, then visit HSG168 itself for any specific queries or extra guidance on a particular risk.

Here are the links to our quick reads:

General Fire Precautions

Provision of Fire Alarms & Extinguishers on Construction Sites

Fire Safety in TAUs

Specific Risks: Larger & High-Risk Sites

Specific Risks: Acetylene & Hot Work

Specific Risks: Stored Materials & Waste

Specific Risks: Electricity & Gas

Specific Risks: Plant, Vehicles & Smoking

In addition, we have a selection of printable checklists for you to fill in, to guide you through the requirements and to help you keep records of what’s done:

Site Set-Up Fire Safety Checklist

Shell-Up Fire Safety Checklist

Fire Extinguisher Audit Checklist

Fire Safety Signage Checklist

What routine checks do I need to carry out, and when?

Once you’ve got everything in place, you need to be aware of exactly what checks you need to do, and when, and also what inspections are best done by professional contractors, in order to keep your fire safety equipment in good working order.

Here are the basics, as a reminder, but read on for more specific information for each category:

Category ‘In-house’ Inspection Full inspection/service by a competent contractor
Fire Alarms & Emergency Lights Weekly check Six-monthly inspection
Fire Extinguishers & Hose Reels Weekly visual check Annual inspection
Fire Escape Routes Weekly route walk If advice is required
Fire Drill Minimum six-monthly If advice is required

Fire Alarm Systems

HSG168 paragraph 228: The operation and effectiveness of the fire alarm system over the entire site should be:

  • Routinely checked (weekly) and tested by a nominated and competent person; and
  • Periodically serviced and any necessary rectification or repair carried out by a competent person having the appropriate level of training and experience

HSG168 paragraph 229: The work should be carried out in accordance with the supplier’s instructions or, where relevant, to an appropriate standard, for example, BS 5839:1 (at least every 6 months)

Any system, even the most basic ‘shout fire’ system needs to be tested weekly, to ensure it is working and to ensure it can still be heard throughout the site, particularly as the site progresses.  Ideally do this at the same time/day each week and ensure everyone on site is aware that it will be just a test, not the real thing! Importantly, keep records of each testing, including, for example, which alarm unit was checked, or if there were any repairs needed. It is recommended that you test a different alarm unit each time so there is a greater chance of picking up individual unit problems.

Every six months, the fire alarm system should be fully serviced and repaired (usually done by a competent contractor) in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. On a long term site, this is often a good time to re-assess site requirements – are more alarm units needed to ensure full site coverage? Could better coverage be realised by relocating units?

Fire Extinguishers

HSG168 paragraph 236: Examine fire extinguishers and hose reels at least annually in accordance with a recognised procedure, such as that in BS 5306-3. The work should be carried out by a competent person who has received appropriate training.

It is also important that fire extinguishers are visually checked weekly – basically to ensure they are where they should be, and that they haven’t been used or damaged. Contact your fire extinguisher support company for repairs and replacements. It’s good practice to have a stock of spare extinguishers in good working order to use as temporary replacements so fire cover is not compromised at any time.

Annually, all fire extinguishers and hose reels need to be inspected in accordance with BS 5306-3, which is usually done out by a competent contractor, and any repairs or replacements carried out to ensure adequate fire protection on site.

Again, on longer-term sites, this is a good time to re-assess the location of fire extinguishers – see our guidance on Provision of Fire Alarms and Fire Extinguishers on Construction Sites for travel distances and recommended locations for fire-fighting equipment.

Our website also offers a ‘plan upload’ facility, so we can advise and quote on what equipment you would need for any particular site. Visit our Contact Us page to send us your site plans

Emergency Evacuation Procedures

In clear English, ‘Fire Drills’! As HSG168 states It cannot be over-emphasised that the main aim is to ensure that everyone reaches safety if there is a fire.” (HSG 168 p33)

Joint Code of Practice Section 8.6: The emergency procedures should be tested by carrying out regular fire drills at least every six months, evacuating the building to the assembly point

Site operatives need to be fully aware of what they should do in an emergency, and the best way to ensure this is by undertaking regular fire drills. The minimum requirement is every six months, but if you have a high staff turnover it may be appropriate to carry out fire drills more frequently.

It’s important to review each fire drill and see if would be effective enough in a real emergency. For example, if it takes a good twenty minutes to clear the site, it raises questions about the effectiveness of your exit strategy! Perhaps personnel need more awareness of fire safety, or maybe your escape routes are complicated or inadequately signed. Don’t just carry out a fire drill in order to tick the box – assess it and if necessary make changes. Re-test to see if these changes make any difference. Remember, it could be the difference between life and death in the event of a serious fire.

If you need further advice on how to devise or sign escape routes, refer back to our General Fire Precautions guide or give us a call – sometimes it helps to have an independent pair of eyes in the situation. In addition, we can assist with keeping your Risk Assessment up to date

Fire Checks

Every day, the site should be checked for fire hazards and that the escape routes are clear of obstructions and combustibles, and that all signage is in place and visible. ‘Every day’ is important because of the rapidity with which things change on a busy site, and the possible high levels of personnel, each with their own job to do, with maybe little awareness that their workspace might be someone else’s emergency escape route

Ideally, at the end of each working day, walk the escape routes following the signage, and check for any obstructions, combustible materials or waste on or near the routes, ensuring this is moved before work commences on site again.

Other Equipment

There may be other checks you need to carry out if your site is large or if you have other fire safety equipment such as emergency lighting, fire hydrants, fire fighting lifts etc. The point to remember is, if you have safety equipment, make sure it is checked and maintained regularly! There is no point in having equipment that no longer works.

We hope this guide has helped clarify what you need to do to ensure your site is kept safe throughout the course of the project. We hope you’ll never need to use the escape routes or fire safety equipment in earnest, but we want to help you make sure that if an emergency did occur, all systems would work smoothly to prevent loss of life and property. If you have further questions, contact us today.

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As a responsible company and organisation, you are obligated to provide effective, reliable and compliant fire safety equipment. This includes a means of giving warning and the most well-known, reliable and widely-used device for doing so is the fire alarm.

Wireless fire alarms are a great solution for construction sites and temporary buildings. Not only will they send out the message loud and clear but their ‘wirelessness’ is highly beneficial. Find out below why you should choose to install wireless fire alarms on your site.

Quick Installation

The reason wireless fire alarms are faster to install is in the name. Wireless fire alarms require no wiring between the control panel and other devices and this makes the whole process faster.

Wireless fire alarms systems such as the GoLink from Howler UK are all radio linked and once a control panel has been installed, all of the GoLink units are easy to connect to the central hub and each other through radio signals.  Every other element of their efficiency and capability is the same but without having to run lengths of cable between units and through partitions at the risk of damaging surfaces on-site. In short; time, labour, and money are saved.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GOLINK

Financially Beneficial

The efficiency of installing wireless fire alarms (for the most part) makes them ‘cheaper’. Since they don’t require cables, time and energy are not consumed from running wires and drilling holes and efforts can be focused elsewhere. The lack of disruption is also apparent when performing tasks and works on-site as there is no risk of hitting hidden/covered wires that would cause downtime and further issues.

Secure and Efficient

Wireless fire alarms communicate with one another quickly and loudly; everything you need for early warning on-site to keep workers safe. The rapid-install quality of wireless fire alarms also guarantees that fire safety measures can be put in place swiftly and any changes can be made to meet the site’s fire risk assessment requirements.

Different construction sites will require varying numbers of units depending on size, layout and workforce but all fire alarms should be reliable and loud enough to get the message across. Wireless alarm systems such as the Site Alert RF have an open-air sound transmission over 1km and with 30 subsidiary units able to connect to one master unit…that’s a sure way to get the emergency message across.

CHECK OUT THE SITE ALERT RF

Portable and Reusable

Wireless connectivity gives a lot of freedom for placement. Construction sites are constantly changing as the project develops and wired fire alarms require a lot more effort to extract and move. As your site is modified, wireless fire alarms can be unfixed from the surface and moved to another location. They can even be taken to new sites to watch out for any new dangers.

To make wireless fire alarms even more portable, many models (including those manufactured and supplied by Howler UK) are battery-powered. These alkaline batteries are long-lasting but easy to replace if necessary (units have a built-in low battery warning). Place them on a Howler SafetyHub or mobile FirePost, and you can move them out of the way as the trades progress without any effort.

Stay Fully Compliant

Wireless fire alarms help make staying compliant easier and faster. JCOP dictates the quality of sound required per site (dependent on size and layout) and also that some measure must be in place. Wireless fire alarms can be quickly installed at the early stages of any construction project and easily moved as necessary to make sure your site continues to remain a safe, organised and prepared place to work.

It is the responsibility of the Responsible Person on any construction site or building project to ensure all necessary fire safety measures and are in place and that all equipment is maintained, reliable and suitable for the environment.

At Howler UK, our services make staying compliant and prepared simply. We take fire safety seriously and offer high-quality products to support you on-site. For more information, call our expert team today on +44 (0)330 7000 777 or email [email protected] to find out more

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Over the past few months, the UK has transformed workplaces to help support workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although many industries have adapted to make drastic changes to the way they work, construction sites are less flexible and don’t have the ability to make such big changes because of the nature of the work.

Organisations have a duty of care to staff to ensure that as far as reasonably practicable they are not exposed to risks to their health and safety, not only as a result of the pandemic but always. Ultimately, it is critical that employers, employees and the self-employed take steps to keep everyone safe.

Below are five ways employers, companies, and site managers can support welfare on their construction sites.

Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

To be prepared to make necessary changes to your construction site, you need to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment. This is done in exactly the same way as a standard assessment for health and safety-related hazards but must be done in consultation with unions or workers.

You are encouraged to have discussions with your workers, especially those who are classified as ‘clinically vulnerable’ but all staff members should be considered and included. A broad assessment will help your site managers approach the issue in a pragmatic and cohesive way to make the workplace COVID-secure for all.

Failure to complete a risk assessment which considers workplace issues surrounding COVID-19, or failing to put in place sufficient measures to manage the risk, could constitute a breach of health and safety law.

Social Distancing

Social distancing should be part of your site or company’s risk assessment and is one of the steps needed to make your workplace COVID-secure.

Where the social distancing guidelines set out by the government and HSE cannot be followed in full during specific activities, businesses should consider whether that activity can be redesigned to maintain a 2m distance or 1m with risk mitigations.

Although there are many manual tasks where a 2m distance would be impractical to insist on,  there are many other areas/aspects of a site that should be assessed including staggered starting times and lunch breaks to reduce the amount of staff in one place at once. Control measures should also be included for emergency areas, communal spaces, smoking areas and toilets.

DISCOVER OUR SOCIAL DISTANCING FLOOR STICKERS

Comply with Public Health Guidance

Since the Prime Minister and UK Government’s address and release of a COVID-19 Recovery Strategy, public health guidance has been issued across different sectors where necessary. Construction sites, where workers can not perform their work from home, are to remain open where it is safe to do so as long as guidelines and safety measures are met.

By following these guidelines, construction sites can ensure the risk of infection is as low as possible while allowing as many people as possible to carry on working. Building control bodies are urged to undertake normal, regular site inspections to ensure all regulations are being met.

These guidelines include meeting many of the other measures on this list but also include flexibility in working hours, temperature checks, closure of certain ‘high-risk’ facilities such as canteens on-site and staying up to date with, and briefing staff on, any changes to the government’s advice.

 

DISCOVER OUR MOBILE SITE HAND SANITISER SOLUTION

Additional Protective Measures

Health and safety is already an integral and statutory part of welfare construction sites but there are many new additions and measures specifically to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The Construction Leadership Council, HSE and government have recommended that workers should be given face coverings in certain site conditions.

The guidance is meant for those working in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible but masks should be worn wherever is safe to do so. Although not technically PPE, employers should provide workers with face coverings/masks that should cover the nose and mouth, made of cloth.

Standards of hygiene should also be drastically increased across all areas of a construction site and where possible equipment should not be shared between persons. Employees should also be encouraged to sanitise and clean their hands as frequently as possible.

DISCOVER OUR HSE COMPLIANT HAND WASH UNIT

Suitable COVID-19 Equipment

To support safety and welfare on construction sites, the responsible persons should invest in products to help employees adhere to guidelines and safety measures.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Howler UK developed the SafetyHub Mobile Sanitiser Station to encourage, remind and enable your site operatives to wash their hands frequently in accordance with government advice.

The Mobile Sanitiser Station is available right across the SafetyHub range and can be supplied either with or without a sanitiser dispenser and has easy to view signage to remind personnel to clean their hands.

Made of the same durable plastic as all the SafetyHub range, our Sanitiser Stations will stand up to the rigours of site life!

CHECK OUT OUR SANITISER STATION

Staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic is of huge concern to companies and individuals all over the world. Now, more than ever, staff need to know that employers and companies are taking the necessary measures to keep them, their families, and the public safe.

It is also in the legal and financial interest of construction site management to follow these guidelines as the HSE will take a range of actions against those failing to enforce relevant Public Health England guidance.

For more information on how Howler UK can support your site during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, call us today on 0330 7000 777

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MaintenancePlus is designed to give you peace of mind and save you money. It makes it easier both to maintain fire safety equipment on site and to successfully re-use equipment on multiple sites.

In a nutshell, we supply and maintain equipment on site, then repair and store equipment between projects, leaving you to get on with the building work!

Key benefits OF MAINTENANCEPLUS 

  • significant cost savings (clients report around 40% minimum saving typically)
  • considerable reduction in wastage making it a more sustainable option
  • and the fact that it helps to achieve a minimum standard consistently across all sites

Click here to find out more about how the MaintenancePlus system works, or call us to discuss how MaintenancePlus could help you on your sites.

For more information on how Howler UK can support you, call us today on 0330 7000 777.

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Howler is here to help adapt to changing times, the Mobile Hand Sanitiser Station is a development of our innovative SafetyHub Mobile Site Safety Point. Keeping you as safe as possible on-site!

The sturdy wheeled unit is customisable to suit any particular site/location requirements you desire and is our answer to the need for hand cleansing facilities in tough environments

For more information on how Howler UK can support your site during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, call us today on 0330 7000 777 or click here to watch the Sanitiser Station in action.

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Meet the latest addition to our Covid-19 range: the Mobile Wash Hand Basin. This standalone unit is manufactured from high grade stainless steel and is suitable for a wide variety of environments, both inside and outside.

Fully complying with HSE hand wash regulations the Mobile Wash Hand Basin comes with a 2 year warranty and is available in a number of options to suit every requirement

The tap is operated by a foot pump, for hygienic ‘hands-free’ use, dispensing hot water – ideal for areas with no water connection. The integral wheels allow for quick and easy movement to the point of need.

For more information on how Howler UK can support your site during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, call us today on 0330 7000 777

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We are all finding COVID-19 regulations in our workplace a challenge to implement and uphold.  Maintaining social distancing is a really tricky one to constantly remind each other about, which is why we love these clear-to-read, tough floor stickers that provide all the information and the positioning in one simple application

Wherever you are likely to have a conflux of people, these durable blue floor ‘plaques’ are highly legible and very informative, without over-complicating the message or looking awkwardly official

Ideal for canteens, internal site entrances and thoroughfares, offices, washrooms, lifts and stairways…

Secure your simple social spacing solution for just £89 for a set of 10 floor stickers,  and maintain that vital distancing to keep you, your team and the NHS safe. Quantity discounts are available – please ask.

For more information on how we can support you during the pandemic, call us today on 0330 7000 777 to discuss your requirements.

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The Construction Leadership Council has drawn up comprehensive guidelines on how sites should operate during the current COVID-19 crisis.

What you can and can’t do, how to manage social distancing on, who is allowed on site and advice on canteens and welfare are just some of the topics covered, so it’s vital reading to ensure we keep all our workers as safe as possible.  Sites that are not consistently implementing the guidelines may be required to close.

Click to read the full Site Operating Procedures document. For further information,  or to check for newer versions of the guidelines, please visit the Construction Leadership Council website.

For more information on how Howler UK can support your site during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, call us today on 0330 7000 777

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STATEMENT TO ALL OUR CUSTOMERS Re: COVID 19 PRECAUTIONS

COVID-19 presents an unprecedented crisis that is affecting people right around the globe and will impact each of us significantly in the forthcoming weeks and months. At Howler UK, we remain committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that our staff and customers are protected from the virus, and at the same time continuing to provide our normal level of service to all customers. We are fully aware that the services we provide to clients are essential for the ongoing protection of lives and livelihoods, as well as compliance with fire safety regulations.

As far as possible, therefore, the business will continue as normal, subject to any guidance issued by the Government. We have conducted a supply chain review and are adjusting our stock levels to provide contingency supply where necessary.

Only essential face to face meetings will continue to be held, but Video Conferencing facilities will be utilised as much as possible to ensure that business functions as normally as possible. In particular, train and air travel will be avoided.

If it becomes necessary to close the offices, essential services will continue to be provided by staff working remotely. We will do everything within our power to continue technician visits to customer’s sites in order to maintain the life safety equipment for our customers. All our technicians are required to take simple precautionary measures to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus, both at work and outside of work.

If customers have to close their premises, we ask that we are notified prior to our technicians attending site to avoid unnecessary travel and aborted visit charges.

All staff have been asked to take the following precautionary measures:

1. Observe good respiratory practice

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or their sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. Put used tissues in the bin immediately.

2. Wash hands regularly

Wash your hands with soap and water often (or sanitizer gel where this is not available). Particularly, whenever you enter and leave a customer’s premises. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands if they are unclean. Hand sanitizer will be provided in all vehicles.

3. Observe social distancing

Avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Try to avoid locations where it is not possible to maintain reasonable distances from other persons and crowds, especially where you are likely to be close to other people for more than 20 minutes (e.g. in restaurants, places of entertainment etc).

4. Observe customer-specific instructions

When you enter customer premises, you must follow the precautions they may have put in place. This will be particularly important in premises where vulnerable people live, such as the elderly.

5. Public transport

Avoid using busy public transport, and for work use, the company will not be booking a train or air travel for non-essential travel.

6. Incoming goods and parcels

Wherever possible goods and parcels entering the work premises should remain in quarantine for at least 12 hours before opening to reduce the risk of picking up contamination.

7. If you feel unwell

If you have a continuous cough or high temperature, we are recommending that you self-isolate for 7 days, as per the Government guidance. If you are no better after this time, seek medical assistance.

As further guidance is issued, we will respond accordingly.

Gary Askew
Director

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Fire extinguishers are one of the most well-known and universally used forms of firefighting equipment and on a construction site, a fire extinguisher can make all the difference to fire control.

When it comes to planning and managing construction work, fire safety should always be a key consideration. Having fire safety equipment on construction sites ensures that workers are prepared to react to emergency situations efficiently and safely. Additionally, the provision of fire safety equipment is also a legal requirement under fire safety regulation.

Why are fire extinguishers required on construction sites?

Construction sites are full of potential fire risks. From hot works to heaters to flammable materials throughout the site area, construction sites have all the catalysts to start a devastating fire.

Fire extinguishers are used for two reasons. The pri03y purpose of a fire extinguisher is to assist in escape from a fire. In other circumstances, fire extinguishers may be used to fight fires in the early stages. By using a fire extinguisher at the early stages of small and solitary fires, further damage can be prevented.

Fires are not always the raging infernos that site owners have night03es about. Fire extinguishers allow trained individuals to safely tackle fires at an early stage before they develop beyond control. By being in the right place and ready for use, fire extinguishers save the construction industry a lot of money and the lives of workers every year.

What fire extinguishers do you need? 

Knowing what type of fire extinguisher you need for your construction site can be difficult to determine. There are five main types of fire extinguishers including wet chemical, CO2, dry powder, foam and water.

To meet fire safety regulations, you must have the exact types of fire extinguisher to meet the fire risks of your site. This will be determined by a fire risk assessment that covers the different types of fuels on your site. The different types of fires caused by these fuels are classified as different fire classes.

There are five fire classes: 

  • Class A Fires: include fires caused by combustible materials such as paper, fabric, wood and other flammable solids
  • Class B Fires: include fires caused by flammable liquids such as paint, turpentine or petrol among others
  • Class C Fires: caused by flammable gases including methane, butane or hydrogen among others
  • Class D Fires: include fires caused by combustible metals including potassium, aluminium or magnesium among others
  • Class F Fires: include those caused by cooking oils such as a chip-pan fire
  • Electrical Fires (E): Electricity is not a fuel, but a source of ignition, therefore it is not a class of fire. However, some extinguishers are not safe for use on live electrical equipment.

Fire safety arrangements and placement of fire extinguishers will be completely dependent on the variables of an area. One area of a construction site may have a class F fire risk and another might have class B risks. Some may have multiple. Choosing the right fire extinguisher(s) is crucial.

Below is a comprehensive list of the main types of fire extinguisher and what class they can be used with:

  • Water (A)

  • Foam (A, B)

  • Carbon Dioxide (B, E)

  • Powder (A, B, C, E) – (DRY powder for D)

  • Wet Chemical (A, F)

No fire extinguisher is suited for all fires. Learn the different fire extinguisher colours, types and classes:

How many fire extinguishers should there be on a construction site? 

Each construction site is different and should be assessed regularly as works and projects change. This safety assessment is required to properly identify the types of extinguishers, the quantity needed and location.

Construction site size and project works type are the biggest influence on fire extinguisher quantity. As fire extinguishers should always be accessible and lead people closer to an exit, the quantity will be additionally determined by how many levels/exits a site has. It is recommended that there is at least 1 x 9L Water or Foam extinguisher and 1 x CO2 extinguisher at each fire point.

Need more help understanding fire extinguisher quantities and requirements for your site? Download our fire safety white papers. We also have a handy checklist which is available on request – drop us a line and we’ll send you a copy.

Where to get fire extinguishers?

At Howler UK, we have a mission to make fire safety simpler. That’s why we want to make supplying the correct fire extinguishers for your site simple. Our comprehensive range of fire extinguishers (self-service and conventional) is innovatively designed to meet construction site demands and requirements.

All Howler UK extinguishers are kite03ked to BS EN3 and carry a five-year warranty for extra peace of mind. We also provide maintenance by our BAFE approved engineers, so that you can be confident that your insurance requirements are also met.

If you need fire extinguishers for your construction site, contact Howler today on 0330 7000 777 or email [email protected]

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Fire continues to be one of the most dangerous threats to life on a construction site. Managing and limiting the risks, given the number of people and variables found on temporary sites, is a big undertaking.

However, site managers and responsible persons must take necessary fire safety measures to keep a site fire safety compliant and functional.

Different construction sites have different levels and types of requirements. Larger construction sites will need a wider cover and a more varied approach compared to smaller sites. Fire alarms are key to any construction site’s fire safety management but how do you know which one is best for you? Find out more below.

Why is fire alarm choice important?

The end goal of specifying a fire alarm system for a construction site is simple: to get everyone to safety in the event of a fire in the quickest and most efficient manner. The difficulty comes from a construction site not having a fire alarm system built into its management system in the same way a completed building does.

Construction sites are always changing. New floors, walls, plastering and the rolling progress of sites make it difficult to use a wired system as there’s usually a need to reposition wires and call points on all but the smallest projects.

For the above reasons, fire alarm systems intended specifically for the construction industry will always be your best choice as they are designed to be durable, efficient and construction-site ready.

workers on construction site

 

What types of fire alarm systems are available? 

Self-contained Alarms

A great alternative to a full fire alarm system, which in many locations and situations such as construction sites are impractical due to power supply constraints, the Howler Alarm systems are fully self-contained. Most devices are even completely battery-operated. There is also an option to link different styles of fire alarm systems including stand-alone, hard-wired and wireless or radio-linked.

Standalone vs Interlinking Fire Alarms

The fire alarm system you choose depends on how temporary your site is and the nature of work taking place. Standalone and interlinking fire alarm systems are available in wireless and hard-wired options and the choice will depend on the changing nature of the construction site and the number of fire alarms you require.

For a standalone option, the trusty range of Howler HO alarms remains a firm favourite and has a meaty battery and an unmistakable siren (102dB(A) at 1m). Standalone fire alarms are ideal for smaller construction sites or isolated site offices/work areas.

If you have a larger site, you should invest in an interlinked alarm system. An interlinked system ensures that if one alarm sounds on site then all alarms will sound to alert the whole site. Interlinked systems may be connected by cable or wirelessly linked by radio and should be simple to set up and use.

Howler UK’s GoLink fire alarm system is a radio-linked fire warning system that has an easy-to-use control panel at its heart. It can link up to 127 stations and ensure that everything works together to create a comprehensive alarm system for your site.

Lights and Strobes

Lights and strobes provide important visual alerts that something is wrong, sending the emergency message effectively to people and individuals that have a hearing impairment.

Typically, most fire alarm systems are audible throughout an entire facility, where ambient noise levels are at average levels. On a construction site, where employers and building owners are aware of a hearing-impaired employee or resident, they must provide visual alerts too.

Depending on the type of site, it may be advisable to install strobes and lights anyway. Noisy construction work or crowds of people can make audio hard to g08e and less effective.

Workspaces where loud work is undertaken, or zones that need to be kept quiet, are both areas where beacon alarms such as Howler UK’s Visua-Link come into their own. It is a discrete unit that can be mounted anywhere and is ideal for situations where a flashing warning is required in addition to the main fire alarms.

Rotary Alarm Bells and Air Horns

On very small sites, air horns or rotary alarm bells can be considered. Both can be used to raise the alarm manually and neither needs a battery.

They aren’t suitable for sites where the sound level is not sufficient to be audible throughout the project. Also, the alarm is dependent on an individual operating the alarm, at a risk to their own safety.

DISCOVER THE GOLINK BY HOWLER UK

Setting up the GoLink system has no requirement for specialist gear or high-tech laptops. Stations connect automatically with the Control Panel once they have been addressed and the panel constantly monitors connections between stations and gives you a warning if any station becomes disconnected, or if batteries become low.

There is also a GoLink option with a first-aid assistance alarm. On activation, the unit sends a radio signal to the control panel providing an ‘Assistance Needed’ message and the number of the unit that has been activated. First aiders can be quickly directed to the casualty and, if required, the whole site can be put on alert.

Depending on the size of your construction site, the Site Alert is also a great fire safety solution. The standard Site Alert units are designed specifically for smaller sites and smaller budgets. Up to 20 units can be linked together using 2-core cable and have a volume of 100dB at 1 metre.

DISCOVER THE HOWLER SITE ALERT

The s03ter Site Alert RF is the solution for smaller sites where a wireless solution is required. Designed to be used in internal and protected external locations, this clever system runs entirely on off-the-shelf alkaline batteries and has a simple but effective fault and battery-level monitoring features usually confined to larger and more expensive alarm systems.

Howler will specify the right fire alarm for you.

Howler UK’s fire alarm products are designed to withstand the rigours and tests of the construction site and their easy-to-use, simple to set up features are a key advantage.

If you need a fire alarm specified for your upcoming construction project, contact Howler today on 0330 7000 777 or email [email protected]

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Construction is a high-risk industry but as the winter season rolls in with adverse weather conditions and a whole new set of hazards, new challenges and risks develop.

During winter, a construction site will require season-specific countermeasures and risk assessments to ensure that the site remains safe and productive.

Here are some key considerations for construction site safety you should be aware of during the winter season.

Beware of the heat

There are around 11 construction fires every day. These fires pose a great risk to the lives of workers but are also devastating financially and to infrastructure.

There are a lot of flammable materials and equipment on construction sites and during winter, the risk increases with the introduction of heating equipment that might save your cold fingers but could lead to a wide-spread fire.

A heat lamp or room heaters such as those used in welfare areas or site accommodation is a potential source of ignition. These areas are typically small and construction site workers aren’t notoriously clean and tidy. The temptation to warm clothes up on heaters also becomes very attractive in winter.

Make sure that heaters are never covered or restricted. They should not be left unsupervised and should be given sufficient space away from combustible goods. They should also not be placed in through routes or areas where they can pose a risk to employees that may trip, as this can also result in a fire risk and a risk to health.

Suitable fire protection and equipment should always be available on construction sites. With the correct fire extinguishers and fire safety training, small fires can be de-escalated safely. In the case of sufficient warning for large construction sites, wide-spread fire alarm systems that are linked are the best solution for early warning.

portable heater on construction site

Keeping warm with the right clothing

No one likes to have cold hands and toes. Not only are they a discomfort but they can directly impact the safety of employees on site. Rapid heat loss or the reduction of body temperature over time can lead to serious illness and downtime.

If clothing becomes wet, it’s important to change into dry clothes to avoid losing body heat. Extremities are also at high risk from the cold temperatures that settle over the early months of the year.

For hands, gloves and mittens that provide workers with good manual dexterity to work with tools and materials should be selected. Workers should keep their gloves on at all times, especially when using ladders, scaffolding or getting onto construction equipment. Frostbite can occur immediately if workers touch extremely cold metal with bare hands.

It is recommended to wear at least three layers. The base layer should have moisture-wicking properties to draw the sweat away from your body. The second piece of clothing should be made of breathable material that will help to insulate the body. The layer you wear on the outermost part should be good for elemental protection.

In winter, something that is windproof and waterproof will drastically improve safety. Clothing should fit well and allow for a full range of motion.

Also, make sure you bring a big thermos to work that you can fill with a nice brew or a coffee to warm your insides! Maybe even soup!

workers at an outdoor construction site

Slips and falls

Surfaces and slopes that appear completely harmless in the autumn and summer months can become extremely treacherous in winter. It’s no surprise that winter weather increases the risk of falls due to ice and wet, slippery surfaces.

When a surface becomes cold, ice can gather on equipment such as scaffolding, ladders, walkways and work platforms. Without treatment or the use of weather-resistant materials (or restriction/awareness of these areas), workers can slip or fall.

Salt or sand to melt icy patches and improve traction for workers should be applied when needed. Also make sure that icy areas that can’t be cleared are clearly 03ked and instruct workers to slow down, especially when carrying materials and tools, to avoid slips. A safety point with whiteboards such as the SafePost from Howler can be used to provide a visual warning to passing workers.

Hard hats should be worn at all times to protect against falling objects like icicles and slips and falls on ice. As for shoes, workers should wear waterproof boots with non-slip soles. When wearing steel-toed boots, ensure workers have thick, warm socks as the metal section can act as a cold sink.

Stay safe and compliant on site 

Preventing accidents on construction sites during winter requires a lot of attention and focus. Regular inspections should be carried out and workers should be trained and instructed on how to deal with the new risks.

Additional signage and labelling throughout a construction site can make sure that workers are aware of new risks or reminded of current ones in place such as turning off heaters or remembering to put on a hard hat.

Work on a construction site can’t be carried out in the same way as drier months and realistic expectations should be set of timescales and production. Going too fast in slippery conditions can be more problematic than it’s worth.

Howler’s product range of construction site safety equipment can help improve the way your site functions and make sure you’re prepared to deal with an emergency should it arise.

Don’t leave safety to chance: prepare for the new hazards and risks on your construction site before it’s too late. For more information on site safety equipment, contact Howler today on 0330 7000 777 or email [email protected].

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Fires kill, injure and cause serious human suffering and financial loss every year in the construction industry. On many construction sites, the danger of fire is severe as high-risk activities such as hot work are frequently combined with environments and materials that help fires spread quickly and that may make escape difficult.

Construction site fire safety needs to be managed from the earliest stages of design and procurement and it is the duty of the Responsible Person to have the risks to site workers and site neighbours assessed.

Choosing the best fire alarm options for construction sites can help save lives and be an invaluable asset throughout the duration of work.

What type of fire alarm should be used on-site? 

On a construction site, it’s not only the initial installation of fire alarm systems that need to be planned. A construction site is a temporary fixture that is constantly developing and being reconfigured.

The original location of a fire alarm may end up being unsuitable when the location and nature of the work changes. The application, design and operation of temporary wireless fire alarms make them a suitable fit for these conditions.

Temporary fire alarms are wireless and therefore don’t need to be wired into the infrastructure, making them easier to move around as the site develops. Unlike the completed building that will have a fire alarm built into the management system, construction site fire alarms must be designed to adapt with the build.

When choosing a fire alarm for a construction site, any choice the Responsible Person makes must ensure the systems are compliant with fire safety standards and relevant codes of practice. Not all wireless fire safety systems are the same and so care is required in selection. We’ll discuss more compliance below.

wireless fire alarms

How does a temporary alarm system work? 

Temporary fire alarm systems, in practice, work in the same way that any other standard fire alarm does, aiming to mitigate the risk of fire and encourage fast response to emergencies.

The key difference and advantage of temporary alarm systems is their design. As a wireless device they can be repositioned without reprogramming into the site’s circuitry; simply install and uninstall the self-contained units as required.

Wired systems can significantly slow down the work of subcontractors on site that encounter them. At the next phase of the development, when you’ve invested time, effort and money into getting these workers onto the site, there’s now a wired system in the way that needs to be dismantled and reinstalled elsewhere to maintain suitable safety measures.

No wires also mean that no specialist tradespeople such as electricians are required and there’s no threat during cutting or drilling that someone will catch the loose wires of the fire alarm.

The Go-Link alarm systems designed by Howler have the same strengths as any wired system but with the addition of wireless connectivity. With a singular control system, that can connect up to 127 stations, you can have your whole site covered for early detection.

When utilised with wireless detectors, alarm systems can send a site-wide early warning alarm throughout the building using the wireless connectivity to make sure workers in every area are alerted as quickly as possible. Construction sites can be huge places and getting the message from one side to the other isn’t easy without a system that can have the alarm there in a matter of seconds through wireless communication.

For noisier areas, or wear ear protection reduces hearing, visual warning becomes essential to this system. The red flashing beacon enhancement offers a vital, attention-grabbing addition to the audible warning of the siren.

How to install a wireless alarm system? 

As temporary alarm systems may need to be moved frequently, the simple and hassle-free installation will help reduce downtime on-site and ensure that fire safety is always present.

All Howler alarms are best mounted on a secure backboard, and our FirePost and CallPost range provide the perfect installation solutions.

CallPost

The CallPost is designed to provide a professional mounting board for any model of Howler alarm, making installation quicker and more flexible The board comes with all necessary fixing holes and fixing bolts. Simply fasten the wireless alarm system to the robust backboard and use the pre-drilled holes and supplied fixings to secure it to a surface.

These mounting boards can be used over and over again by installers wanting a speedy installation and relocation experience. With 127 alarm systems possible per control panel, the CallPost also features a designated call point number space to help workers identify their position.

fire safety construction

FirePost

The FirePost is designed modularly, enabling you to ‘grow’ the fire point to the size of your choice. This mobile unit can be used to store fire safety equipment such as fire extinguishers and first aid signage and can be completely tailored to the specific fire safety requirements of individual work sections.

The backboards come with laser-cut fixings holes in position for fitting accessories such as Howler alarms. This speeds up the installation process dramatically and should you need to take the alarm elsewhere, you don’t need to remove the fire alarm system…you can just wheel the mobile FirePost to a new position.

fire safety station

What regulations do temporary fire alarms need to meet in site accommodation units? 

Temporary buildings or temporary accommodation located

a) inside the building under construction/refurbishment

b) inside another permanent building

c) within 10m of such building(s)

must be fitted with fire detection systems complying with a recognised Category of Installation as set out in BS 5839-1.

BS 5839-1:2017 provides recommendations for the planning, design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in and around non-domestic buildings.

For a fire alarm system to comply fully with BS 5839-1, the devices used in the system must comply with the relevant parts of BS EN54.

Fire safety professionals will never specify a fire alarm system compliant with BS EN54, because BS EN54 gives you no indication of what the overall fire alarm system should look like. At Howler, we refer to BS 5839-1, which cross-references to BS EN54.

For more information on ensuring safety and compliance, we offer FREE technical resources to help improve the way people think and understand fire safety.

fire safety resources

Howler is passionate about innovation and ensuring everything we do is in the name of improving fire safety. Our products are designed to withstand the rigours and tests of the construction site and their easy-to-use, simple to set up features are a key advantage.

With first-aid variations and numerous model options available, you can choose the style that meets the exact specifications of your site.

If you have any questions about our systems or meeting fire safety standard on-site, don’t hesitate to contact Howler today on +44 (0)330 7000 777 or email [email protected]

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Construction sites are large and busy places. Ignition risks such as electrical faults, hot works, inappropriate use/location of portable heaters and fuel, smoking and arson are significant contributors to the fires that happen on construction sites every year in the United Kingdom. These fires are responsible for causing damage to property, people and the industry.

All of the above hazards make construction sites dangerous places, as it is impossible to completely eliminate all risks. If an emergency or fire does occur, knowing how to react is crucial in controlling the damage. It’s vital to have accessible resources on-site to help workers prevent or minimise harm to people and property.

Fire safety points are an innovative form of fire safety equipment designed for use on construction sites and in workplaces. Find out below how they can help prevent and reduce damage in your workplace.

What is a fire safety point?

A fire safety point is a mobile piece of fire safety equipment that changes the way workers react and prepare for emergencies.

Fire safety points are robust, mobile units that act as an assembly point or focus point for workers to report to and contain a range of fire safety equipment. They can be fitted with different types of fire equipment, fire extinguishers, and fire alarms and can be adapted to the environment and the risks of the individual workplace. What works for one task or building project might not be relevant for another.

The Howler team has created several types of fire safety points so you can truly get safety equipment that is tailored to your needs.

Types of fire safety points

SafetyHub

The SafetyHub is more than just a mobile fire point. It can be a PPE station, First-Aid point, Fire Safety centre, Spill Response hub or Safety Information centre. With its unique design and features, it can be configured exactly how you want it to be, into what you need it to be, wherever you need it.

The SafetyHub is perfect for use on construction sites, in factories, workshops, filling stations, on civil engineering projects, at events and in any busy environment you can think of. This unit is equally at home indoors or outside and will be invaluable for ensuring the safety of everyone on site.

What sets this safety point apart is the utility of its design across all industries and sectors. Choose from a variety of designs within the range to get complete compliance with your workplace needs.

Find out more about this innovative fire safety point on our dedicated SafetyHub site!

CallPost

The CallPost is the best way to add a more practical and efficient edge to Howler fire alarms. This mounting board is designed to make locating a fire alarm on site quick and simple, creating valuable seconds for workers to react or escape.

The board comes with all necessary fixing holes and fixing bolts so the CallPost can be fitted straight away to provide fire safety from the word go. This easy-fit fire safety point can also be removed after the job is finished and installed just as easily at the next site. As many times as it’s needed.

The mounting board has a set space to add a call point sign or number for easy identification and continuity throughout the construction site.

As all call points must be installed in locations that are easily locatable, this bright and bold mounting post makes it easy to locate the fire alarm call-point at all times.

The CallPost also features all statutory signage such as the Call Point sign and Fire Action notice. Not only does it help employees react to emergencies with clearly 03ked instructions but it helps make workplaces safer places while complying with fire safety regulations.

FirePost

Howler’s FirePost range is the result of years of research about what does and doesn’t work for fire safety on sites. For that reason, the FirePost isn’t just another ‘trolley’ for carting around on site.

This piece of equipment is a customisable, innovative product with some features never seen before in the fire safety equipment sector.

The FirePost has a ‘modular’ design and you can ‘grow’ the fire point to the size of your choice with the fire safety equipment on board that you require. This offers ultimate flexibility on what equipment is on the point at any time. The FirePost is also manufactured with a strong centre of gravity to maximise the stability of the unit.

The backboards come with laser-cut fixings holes in position for fitting accessories such as Howler alarms and document holders. This speeds up the installation process dramatically.

With security and weather protection, this unit offers unparalleled protection from the outset and is designed to have everything you need for controlling and maintaining fire safety.

Discover more about the Howler FirePost range options or watch the video below to see it in action.

Howler Fire Post

SafePost

When it comes to safety on construction sites, it is important that information is displayed in a place where it will be seen and in a way that will be understood. The SafePost gives you the opportunity to provide the right health and safety information in the right place, at the right time.

The SafePost is designed to be used internally as a free-standing display throughout construction projects. This attention-grabbing signage can be set up the way that you want by linking panels together. The limits of this safety point are the limits of your mind.

Safety equipment such as an ear-plug dispenser, eyewash station, safety glasses cleaner and a spill kit can be mounted on the SafePost. Site Plans can be displayed in clip-frames, and dry-wipe sections provide areas for 03king up current hazards on site.

Alongside ‘PPE required’ sections, workers can easily recognise the risks and be prepared to prevent injuries and accidents while at work.

The practical design features retractable legs and hinged panels. That way the SafePost can be easily dismantled and transported between projects. The anti-scratch signage is designed to withstand full-on construction-site life and ensures that the panels continue to look great after years of service.

Why have fire safety points? 

By having all the fire safety information and equipment required in one accessible location, it is easy for workers to remember exactly where they need to go and what they need to do. Being confident helps workers to react faster and more efficiently to prevent emergencies spreading. These reaction times are a real advantage for stopping fires before they grow beyond control.

Fire safety points also help workers be prepared for the risks present in workplaces. Presenting the steps to take to prevent an emergency or injury in a clear and digestible way will help workers to prepare against risks, whether that’s by using PPE or by recognising fire hazards.

The fire safety points designed by Howler help you comply with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and ensure your site is compliant and prepared for inspections as well as ready to handle emergencies.

The mobile and easy-installation qualities of the Howler fire safety points means they can be fitted and placed so that the greatest travel distance from any point in the building to the nearest call point does not exceed 30m, as recommended.

With fully customisable fire safety points available you can ensure the premises are always equipped with appropriate fire-fighting equipment and with fire detectors and alarms.

Staying safe on site with fire safety points

With 30 years of experience, we can help you keep up to date with all of the rules and regulations and ensure that you have the products you need to support safety on site.

For more advice on fire safety points or custom options, get in touch with our team on +44 (0)330 7000 777 or email [email protected].

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Construction site fires put workers lives at risk but also threaten the property of the public in surrounding areas. Construction sites need to have fire safety equipment and fire safety measures in place to deter, prevent and fight all types of fires.

Read on to discover the most common sources of ignition on construction sites and how the responsible person(s)/on-site management can control these risks to ensure fire safety compliance.

IGNITION RISKS

It is important that you take action to control ignition sources as misuse, negligence or a lack of safety measures can have devastating effects. Smoking can cause a fire hazard when cigarettes are not disposed of and stubbed out properly. To reduce the risk, smoking should be totally prohibited on-site or designated smoking areas should be created away from the main work site and offices.

Arson is a huge safety issue for construction sites and the site management should reduce the opportunity for an arsonist to strike by strictly controlling access and remaining vigilant. Keep the site tidy and promote adequate material storage to reduce fuel sources for arsonists.

Hot works lead to heat, sparks and flames that can cause a fire. Precautions include clearing the area of combustible materials, suitable fire-fighting equipment, and careful observation. A permit to work (PTW) system can help manage the risk on larger projects.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT FIRE ALARM SYSTEM TO KEEP YOUR SITE SAFE

ELECTRICAL FAULTS

No matter the size or purpose, construction sites are full of potential fire hazards. However, the sites at the highest risk are those undergoing refurbishment, demolition or construction.

Old wiring is always a potential fire risk as it has been untended, potentially tangled and could have been overheating for a long time. Damaged electrical cables or leaving them unresolved can cause a fire to start.

Lighting and heaters should be placed away from combustible material, and halogen and halide lights should not be used due to high operating temperatures. To further reduce the risk of fire on-site, anything electrical should be tested, inspected and commissioned before use. Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) should be carried out in accordance with the HSE guidance note HSG107 which advocates a risk-based testing policy. Electrical installations must also meet the BS 7671: 2008 requirements for electrical installations, which includes a specific section on construction sites.

Thorough assessment and precautions to control ignition sources and meet adequate fire safety standards on-site must always meet CDM Regulations 2015.

ARRANGE A PAT TEST TODAY

FLAMMABLE SOLIDS, LIQUIDS AND GASES

Construction sites contain many flammable solids, liquids and gases, and a singular source of ignition can start a catastrophic fire.

The Site Waste Management Plans Regulations 2008 (enforced by the Environment Agency) set the standards for the management of building materials and waste on-site. Combustible rubbish on-site is a serious fire and safety risk and responsible persons should set clear site rules and make sure these are enforced as part of the fire risk assessment to keep it controlled. Facilities for rubbish storage (positioned away from other site risks) should always be provided to keep rubbish contained.

MORE INFORMATION ON CONTROLLING SUBSTANCES

HOW TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE

On every construction site, there must be a designated ‘Responsible Person’ whose duty it is to ensure that fire safety measures are enforced. All fire-fighting equipment i.e. fire extinguishers must be maintained in good working order, undergo an annual maintenance test and should be certified to industry standards.

At Howler, we make fire safety compliance easy. Our self-service fire extinguishers have multiple third-party certifications. They are manufactured to make an annual inspection, tests and routine visual checks easier for those on-site, reducing the need for out-sourced maintenance.

In addition to our compliant fire extinguishers, we also have a range of wireless alarm systems that are essential for keeping your construction site fire safety compliant. Wireless fire alarms support compliance and are better suited than wired alternatives due to the ever-changing nature of construction sites.

For more advice on construction site fire safety compliance, get in touch with our knowledgeable team on 0330 7000 777 or [email protected]

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Configure your own SafetyHub!

You’re looking to upgrade your site safety, make everything tidy, provide project and safety information important to your team, have a bespoke set-up for a specific site, or even multiple stations for different purposes… in short, you need to create a solution that fits YOUR particular requirements.

The SafetyHub does all this and more. The concept was born out of listening to the needs of our customers over 12ades of experience, hearing their individual requests and frustrations and never being able to find something that was ‘just what they were looking for’. So here is the answer: a mobile trolley that comprises multiple elements that can be selected and combined to provide exactly your individual criteria.

More than just a fire point or call point, the SafetyHub can be anything from a fire extinguisher point to full-on emergency equipment station. Comprising a choice of cabinet or stand (for extinguishers, spill kit or first aid equipment), backboards (for Howler alarms, earplug dispensers, site plans etc) and foldable ‘wings’ (for signage), all compacting down to a neat wheeled unit for speedy transportation. You choose which modules you require and the SafetyHub is built to suit you

With a 5 year guarantee, the SafetyHub is built to last in strong UV stabilised polyethene, is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use and is fully recyclable.

Designed with real sites in mind, the SafetyHub is a bespoke product without the bespoke price tag.

We’re so excited about our latest site safety development that we’ve set up a brand new website dedicated to it: the Howler SafetyHub!

www.safetyhub.co

Check out our product page here, then go to our dedicated website to configure YOUR SafetyHub YOUR way!

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Just over six months ago, we were delighted to announce the arrival of the HowlerHalo Illuminated Switch System!  We’re pleased to say they are proving a popular choice with our clients both new and old.

These clever switches, available on two of our Howler GoLink site alarms illuminate when you press them, so you can be 100% sure you’ve activated the alarm, and it’s easy to spot from a distance which alarm has been set off.

They’re great for where that extra level of visable warning is needed and are available both for ‘fire’ and ‘first aid’.

In addition to ultra-bright LED technology, these switches have internationally recognised symbols etched on, making it easy to differentiate between the buttons, even for workers who don’t read English.

Click here to find out more about the HowlerHalo Switch System

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Now’s the time you start wondering why you bought so many fans earlier in the year! British winter is with us again, so we’re dusting off the heaters and bringing out all the cold weather gear once more.

Room heaters, both fixed and portable can pose a significant fire hazard, and space heating on construction sites needs to be fully risk assessed.   We’ve put together a few reminders to help you keep your site safe:

  • JCOP states that all heaters in TAUs must be fixed, preferably above floor level, fitted with securely fixed metal guards and maintained in a sound condition.
  • Carelessly drying clothes can cause fires. Coat stands and drying racks must be firmly positioned at a safe distance from heaters, which should be thermostatically controlled and have enclosed elements.
  • All heaters and cooking appliances must be properly installed and adequate ventilation provided.
  • Where portable heaters are permitted, ensure they are PAT tested and never join extension leads. Ensure heaters are at a safe distance from all combustible materials (clothing, desks, paper etc) and turn them off before you leave the room.
  • During the run up to Christmas you may have flammable 12orations, Christmas trees etc in the office – ensure these are not too close to heaters and lights and that emergency exit routes are not impeded.
  • LPG heaters are not recommended, but if they are necessary, ensure you follow all relevant safety guidance, including adequate ventilation. Special care is needed when storing LPG cylinders – check out the HSG 168 Fire Safety on Construction Sites guidance

More advice on construction site fire safety…

For more advice on construction site fire safety compliance get in touch with our knowledgeable team on +44 (0)330 7000 777 or [email protected]. With 30 years of experience, we can help you keep up with all of the rules and regulations and ensure that you achieve compliance as quickly and effectively as possible.

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Clearly, very large sites and those classified as high risk require more stringent fire precautions and an intelligent attitude to fire safety. More people are involved, distances to safety are greater and there is a whole lot more activity on site. JCoP Sections 22 & 23 and HSG168 pages 52-56 cover this type of site in detail, but we’ve put together a brief overview of the extra details you’ll need to take into account for higher risk sites.

Modern methods of construction often present higher risks, even if the end result will be safer! Timber panels pre-fabricated off site can mean that flammable, structural parts of the building are exposed for longer. This means that in the event of a fire, there will be a rapid spread of fire and smoke, a greater possibility of structural collapse and the chance of fire spread to neighbouring buildings. As always, the FRA should be carried out and adequate fire safety arrangements must be in place before any work is started on site.

Timber Frame

Timber frame building, while not a new phenomenon, is becoming increasingly popular. It is important to remember that while the timber is protected once the building is complete, during construction it represents a major fire risk.

  • During construction, a high level of control and care is needed
  • The period when the timber is exposed should be minimised
  • The risk of fire spread to neighbouring properties must be considered (for example if houses are occupied before neighbouring ones are complete)
  • The fire brigade needs to be kept informed, involved and updated with the situation as the site progresses
  • The Principle Contractor must engage with the timber frame supplier to ensure emergency arrangements are understood and in place, and that storage on site is kept to a minimum
  • Consider the use of materials that have been given fire retardant treatment or covering
  • Large timber frame sites should be sub-divided into fire-resistant compartments at the earliest stage possible
  • Special care should be given to travel-to-safety distances (see our previous article on General Fire Precautions)
  • Consider fire spread when there are multiple timber frame buildings on site
  • Ensure exit routes (both internal and external) are not blocked

Composite Panels

  • Widely used in modern building, these boards consist of two metal panels enclosing a core of thermally insulating material
  • While the metal won’t necessarily burn, the insulation may
  • Designers should be specifying non-combustible materials 
  • Product substitutions should not be made unless it is safe to do so
  • Incorrect or shoddy installation can expose a combustible inner filling, so ensure workers are trained sufficiently

High-Rise sites

One of the greater risks of high-rise sites is the effective distance of any fire appliances. When a fire appliance is parked on site, taking into consideration constraints such as water pressure and hose length, its effective distance is about 30m.

The FRA for high-rise sites must take this into account, along with the risks of rapid spread of fire and smoke (heat rises!), possibly inadequate water (or pressure) for the fire brigade, and longer escape times from upper floors

  • It is important to engage with the Fire Brigade early in the project and keep them updated regularly throughout the work
  • Building Regulations consider a building to be ‘high-rise’ if it is 18 metres high or more
  • The big challenge is often in the actual building process. Safety features are often not complete until the project is finished (eg fire compartments)
  • specific FRA must be undertaken at the design stage
  • Construction must progress without putting workers or other personnel in danger
  • Consider temporary compartmentation or other fire safety solutions
  • Sometimes a completed floor is occupied before the final building is complete. In this circumstance the FRA needs to be re-evaluated: consider how you will alert occupants in the event of a fire, and how escape routes might be affected
  • Once part of the building is ‘complete’, check who is now the enforcing authority for the General Fire Precautions – ensure the relevant bodies are aware and working together
  • Risers need to be in place and approved by the fire brigade

General Fire Precautions

These include escape routes, travel distances, lighting and means of raising the alarm (see our earlier article) In multi-storey buildings, because of increased travel distances the ‘place of safety’ is often the stair core. This must be made fireproof so compartmentation is critical!

  • The stair core must be protected to 1-hour fire resistance as a minimum
  • Risers, stair-wells, lift shafts (including tower cranes) should be closed off at all levels vertically
  • Main escape routes need to be protected, even if they are only temporary routes
  • There must be at least one fire-fighters staircase which must be open at all times
  • The fire-fighters lift must be operational as soon as possible

As the building extends, so the fire alarm must extend with it. Remember, it must be audible and visible at all times to all personnel

On large sites, an electrically operated fire alarm is essential, comprising manual activation points (eg break glass or similar) and sounders on appropriate levels, and a link to an occupied office from where the fire brigade can be summoned

Emergency lighting should be considered

It is important that people are able to exit the building without assistance from outside (eg fire brigade)

Again, it is vital to engage with the fire brigade regularly throughout the project – knowledge is invaluable

For further information consult FPA’s JCoP on Fire Prevention on Construction Sites and the HSE guide to Fire Safety in Construction documents

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It cannot be over-emphasised that the main aim is to ensure that everyone reaches safety if there is a fire.” (HSG 168 p33)

General Fire Precautions

General Fire Precautions include:

  • Escape routes and fire exits.
  • Fire-fighting equipment.
  • Raising the alarm.
  • Making emergency plans.
  • Limiting the spread of fire (compartmentation).

Obviously, the requirements will vary from site to site, but the elements of the plan must be considered as an overall package, not in isolation.

Escape Routes

  • Proper provision is needed for all workers, including those on roofs, or in-plant rooms.
  • Escape routes may change as work progresses, with some routes becoming unavailable. Escape routes should therefore be reviewed regularly.
  • Escape via scaffold ladders is difficult and should be avoided if possible.
  • There should normally be at least two routes available in different directions.
  • Ideally, you should be able to turn away from a fire and escape in the opposite direction.
  • Dead ends should be avoided where possible.

Travel distances

  • Distances measured are the actual distance walked (not as the crow flies)
  • Distances are measured to a place of safety – ie outside the bulding or to a protected stairwell
  • There are variations to the above distances if other fire protection measures are in place (eg automatic detection) See HSG 168 for full details

Stairways

  • If there are more than two storeys to the building a protected staircase must be in place
  • Protected staircases have 30-minute fire doors with door closers fitted. These should be fitted before the fire risk increases (eg at fitting out stage)
  • Walls should be flame retardant, including any protective coverings
  • There must be two protected escape staircases if the building is more than four storeys high
  • Doors must open outwards if more than 60 people are likely to use them, and must have panic bars or similar
  • External escape staircases are permitted if there is a fire-protected wall between the building and the staircase, 1.8m either side of the staircase
  • A standard 750mm wide door can be used for up to 100 people, but a 1000mm wide door will be needed if there are more (up to 200 people)

Assembly Point

  • This should be a safe area large enough to contain everyone on site

Signage

  • Signage should be used to 03k the escape routes
  • Signage should be clean, permanent and kept up to date (ie if escape routes change as work progresses)

Compartmentation

  • This is used to stop the spread of fire
  • It is usually part of the final building, but may be needed earlier, particularly to protect the escape routes
  • Temporary compartmentation may be needed in certain circumstances

Emergency Lighting

  • This is required to illuminate escape routes and fire-fighting equipment if natural light is likely to be insufficient
  • Bear in mind enclosed spaces and any night work that might be carried out

Emergency Procedures

  • Consider circumstances in which different levels of evacuation will be required
  • Plans should be unambiguous and responsibilities must be clear
  • Fire Wardens may be required on larger sites
  • There may be a need to liaise with the Fire & Rescue Service

Checks & Monitoring

  • Escape routes should be checked at least weekly
  • The fire alarm system should be checked weekly
  • Fire Drills should be carried out regularly: JCoP recommends at least six-monthly
  • It is essential that all personnel on-site are trained appropriately

We have attempted to give a brief guide to the fire precaution requirements, but for full details please refer to the FPA’s JCoP on Fire Prevention on Construction Sites and the HSE guide to Fire Safety in Construction documents.

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All but the smallest construction sites will have a site office or welfare unit, which are collectively known as TAUs – Temporary Accommodation Units. As they often house electrical equipment and other fire hazards, they require a specific fire risk assessment and a whole section of the HSG 168 ‘Fire Safety on Construction Sites’ document is dedicated to TAUs.

Our downloadable guide takes you through the requirements of HSG 168, so you’ll know what rules there are and what fire safety equipment you’ll need, so you can be sure your site accommodation is as safe as possible.

Points covered include:

  • Location of TAUs
  • What needs to be considered in the Fire Risk Assessment
  • Means of Escape
  • Raising the Alarm
  • Fire-fighting Equipment
  • Staff Instruction & Training

 

Click here to download our Fire Safety in Temporary Accommodation Units guide

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Fire Alarms

There must be some means of raising the alarm on any construction site. HSG 168 states that the fire warning signal must be ‘distinctive, clearly audible above any other noise and…recognised by all the people on site’.

  • on very small sites, ‘word of mouth’, or the provision of a small self-contained fire alarm unit may be enough
  • most construction sites will need an inter-connecting (wired or wireless) system with call-points and sounders to provide adequate means of raising the alarm
  • additional requirements for particular workers or types of work should be addressed (eg visual warning indicators in areas of noisy work or for workers with a hearing impairment)
  • automatic fire detectors (smoke/heat) should be installed in TAUs (temporary accommodation units, eg site offices/canteens) or where a fire might develop unnoticed. On all but the very smallest of sites, these should be connected to the fire alarm system, (ie not a stand-alone domestic type fire alarm.)

On a refurbishment project, where an existing system is still working, it is best to keep this in use as long as possible or to fit the new permanent system as soon as possible in the construction sequence. Where this is not possible, or when electrical systems are being worked on, a temporary alarm system must be provided to ensure cover is continuous throughout the building period.

Any fire alarm system must be checked weekly by a competent person, and details recorded.

Fire alarm systems should also be serviced periodically and maintained in good repair by a competent person appropriately trained.

Obviously, as the site progresses, the fire alarm system will need to be moved/extended to ensure complete coverage at all times.

Fire Extinguishers and other Fire Fighting Equipment

  • Fire fighting equipment should be provided at identified fire points around the site, in addition to extinguishers provided for specific activities (eg hot work) or areas (eg LPG or plant storage)
  • Extinguishers should be predominantly red in colour, (or have appropriate signage) and be located on hooks or stands to keep them above ground level. Stands help to identify a fire point and also ensure that any missing extinguishers are noticed in view of replacement.
  • To ensure adequate coverage for common types of fire, it is recommended that there is at least 1 x 9L Water or Foam extinguisher and 1 x CO2 extinguisher at each fire point. These can be substituted with a Powder extinguisher if necessary. Water extinguishers can be substituted with a fire hose reel if required.
  • Fire points should be located in conspicuous positions close to final exits.
  • All extinguishers should conform to a recognised standard and be serviced at least annually in accordance with BS 5306. (different conditions apply to self-service extinguishers – see our product brochure for more information)
  • As with fire alarms, provision of fire extinguishers should be reviewed as work progresses.
  • Use of fire extinguishers by site workers should be limited to those trained in their use, to fight small fires or to aid escape. Larger fires should be left to the Fire & Rescue Service!

This is a very brief overview, but for more detail visit our Resources Page, where you can download whitepapers on Fire Extinguishers on Construction Sites and Fire Warning Systems on Construction Projects

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Manufactured since 2013 in direct response to a client’s needs, the Howler Adjustable Detector Pole has been extensively site tested, refined and upgraded, culminating in the Howler ExtendiPole.

Easy to use, Easy to move: the ExtendiPole makes automatic fire detection on building sites more user friendly and non-invasive. And because we’ve developed it in close partnership with our clients, you can be assured that it really does what it’s meant to!

Saving you time and money – the NEW Howler ExtendiPole makes adding automatic detection to your GoLink units really simple.

The smoke or heat detector is attached to the FirePost with a height adjustable pole which carries the robust curly wire connecting the detector to the GoLink wireless alarm. So, still no trailing wires, but the convenience of hard wire where it’s needed.

The ExtendiPole is adjustable to 2.3m with an easy to use, tried and tested, clamp system, so detectors can be at the height you need them without any fixings or damage to the building. And, of course, an absolute doddle to relocate as work progresses.

Click here to find out more about the Howler ExtendiPole

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In this article, we give you an overview of HSE’s requirements for the use of electricity and gas on site. Remember, for full guidance, please read the FPA’s JCoP on Fire Prevention on Construction Sites and the HSE guide to Fire Safety in Construction

Electricity & Gas

  • Electrical supply installations, both temporary and permanent, must be installed to BS7671 which includes the use of a skilled technician to carry out the work
  • Portable electrical equipment used on sites should be inspected, tested and be in a satisfactory condition, having the necessary labels to prove this. Further information on this can be found in HSE ref 29.
  • Installations must be inspected every 3 months or when the work has been altered, especially for temporary work. All inspections must be recorded in a specific register.
  • All main switches must be turned off after use apart from those controlling fire protection, security and life safety systems.
  • All gas supplies must be installed by a competent person from a registered gas installer.
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In addition to the usual fire risks, many construction sites will have extra risks from time to time. These all need to be taken into account in the FRA, and the first article in our guide to the basic requirements for these types of risks is shown below. Remember, for detailed guidance, please refer to the FPA’s JCoP on Fire Prevention on Construction Sites and the HSE guide to Fire Safety in Construction documents – we cannot hope to provide a comprehensive overview in just one page!

Acetylene

  • This is a flammable gas that can become unstable if exposed to high temperatures or pressures which can result in severe fire and explosion. If this occurs there should be a 200m ‘safe zone’ in which the area should be evacuated, and cylinders should be left for up to 24 hours before being moved. This has significant implications on the programme of construction sites and businesses working in the area.
  • The use of acetylene should be eliminated where possible, but where it is absolutely necessary, the number of spare cylinders on site should be kept to a bare minimum
  • The cylinder should only be in the workplace when being used – it must be returned to the safe storage area immediately after use
  • Cylinders should not be stored on site any longer than is needed to complete the work

Hot Works

  • Methods other than hot works should be used wherever possible. Where there is no alternative method, hot work should be carried out in a dedicated area away from the main area of work or where materials are stored
  • You must have a hot works permit in order to carry out hot works. You cannot have a ‘blanket’ permit: it must be for specific activities in certain locations. The permit should be signed off at the end of each hot works session
  • Before the hot works start, the area must be cleared of all burnable material, and if working next to a wall or partition, the area the other side must be cleared of all burnable material as well
  • There must be at least two appropriate extinguishers present
  • Any burnable material or wooden flooring that cannot be moved, must be covered by sand or another fire proof material
  • The work area must be suitably screened using correct materials
  • All equipment and hoses must be subject to an inspection before use, and must be in good condition and set-up & used within the manufacturers guidelines. A flashback arrestor should be fitted
  • All gas cylinders must be stored securely by straps or chains, upright and ideally on a trolley designed specifically for the cylinders. The regulator fitted shouldn’t be more than 5 years old
  • The work must only be carried out under the supervision of a trained and competent person
  • Where tar boilers are used, they must be placed at ground level, unless a risk assessment shows that it is safer not to
  • There are various precautions that should be taken when using tar boilers, including the provision of two appropriate fire extinguishers in the near vicinity
  • Any area that is specified for hot work must be subject to a fire watch
  • In all circumstances, a fire watch must happen for 30 minutes after the hot work has finished, and further checks be made at regular intervals up to 60 minutes before the permit can be signed off. In high risk areas, a fire watch must happen for at least 60 minutes after the work has finished before the work permit can be signed off
  • When hot work has been done in or adjacent to a timber framed building, fire checks must be done for at least 60 minutes, and checked at intervals up to 2 hours after the work has stopped before the permit can be signed off
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In this article we give you a brief guide to storage of combustible materials on site and also advice on how important it is to store and dispose of waste materials safely. Remember, for full guidance, please read the FPA’s JCoP on Fire Prevention on Construction Sites and the HSE guide to Fire Safety in Construction

Stored Materials

  • Wherever possible, any combustible material should be stored outside the building under construction, and far enough away from the building that in event of fire, it cannot spread from the materials to the building
  • Storage of all materials should be in locked metal cabinets, but especially on high risk sites
  • Where there are combustible materials on site, they should be stored in an area with controlled access, be away from hot works, in an area covered by fire detection/on a route where there are regular fire risk checks, and have fire fighting equipment located close by
  • In addition, it is recommended that stored combustible materials are covered by a layer of material conforming to LPS 1207 or equivalent

Waste Materials

  • Good housekeeping is very important on all sites – if allowed to accumulate, rubbish can provide an excellent starting point for a fire
  • All waste packing, wood, oily rags and other combustible material must be removed from the workplace at least once a day, to a safe place
  • There should be separate bins and storage areas for different types of rubbish
  • Rubbish chutes should be used wherever practically possible and should be made of fire resistant material. These should not obstruct escape routes
  • Any burning of rubbish and vegetation should be kept to a minimum, and ideally only at site clearance stage. Local authorities and the Environmental Agency must be consulted before any burning occurs
  • All burning must be subject to a risk assessment and be controlled by a permit system
  • A permanent fire watch must happen with any burning, and he/she must have a number of suitable fire extinguishers to hand and be trained to use them
  • The area must be inspected regularly up to 60 minutes after burning before the permit can be signed off
  • Dangerous items such as cylinders, aerosol cans and flammable substances should be removed before burning
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In this article we go over the HSE requirements about location of plant on site, parking of vehicles and how to provide smoking areas. Remember, for full guidance, please read the FPA’s JCoP on Fire Prevention on Construction Sites and the HSE guide to Fire Safety in Construction

Plant & Vehicles

  • Stationary plant such as generators and compressors, should be either stored in a well ventilated, non-combustible enclosure with exhausts and vents positioned away from combustible material, or should be positioned outside
  • All refueling of plant and vehicles should be done in designated areas. They should not be refueled when the engines are running or hot, and the fuel should be stored in accordance with section 14 of JCoP
  • Compressors should be housed separately to other machinery
  • Sand trays or other non-combustible materials with absorbent qualities should be used to catch drips and leaks of fuel and oil
  • Vehicles should be parked no closer than 10m from the building under construction, ideally in a designated parking bay. They should also be no closer than 10m when loading / unloading
  • An FRA should be conducted before any long-term parking should be permitted

Smoking

  • A ‘no smoking’ policy must be established on all sites, apart from in designated smoking areas
  • A smoking shelter must be included in the site FRA and it must be situated as far away from the building as practically possible, but at least 20m away from the building on high risk sites
  • A smoking shelter should be provided with a suitable fire extinguisher. For a smoking area, this isn’t mandatory, but there must be some fire fighting equipment in the vicinity
  • The area around the smoking area should be kept free of debris and rubbish
  • Smoking shelters should not be made of a combustible material
  • Smoking areas/shelters should not, in any circumstance, be situated near windows, ventilation intakes or extracts, entrances/exits to the building, hazardous materials (stored or not), bins, skips or beneath a canopy or low slung eaves
  • Smoking areas/shelters should have metal bins with lids and metal ashtrays provided
  • ‘No smoking’ policies must be established in areas where fire hazards exist, such as areas near refuse and storage areas containing combustible materials, flammable substances and cylinders. ‘No smoking’ signs should be clearly visible and prominent in these areas
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HSE estimates there is, on average, one fire each working hour on construction sites in the UK, ranging from small ‘flare-ups’ to large blazes requiring multiple fire appliances to control.

As with everything, prevention is better than cure, and the JCoP and HSE Fire Safety in Construction publications go into a lot of detail on how to reduce the sources of ignition and fuel on-site. We also have free downable resources that cover this information.

Read on for an overview of the main things you need to remember to limit the possibility of a fire breaking out on your construction site…

Reducing the Sources of Ignition & Fuel on Site

 

Fire Risk Assessment: Reduce Sources of Ignition & Fuel
  • Your FRA will help you to identify what hazards you have on-site and therefore what precautions and rules you need to make
Smoking
  • Current UK legislation requires a ‘No Smoking’ policy on construction sites
  • Designated open-air smoking areas should be of low fire risk design
  • On very high-risk sites, increased policing and controls will  be needed to reflect the increase in the potential for a fire to start
  • All workers and visitors should have the smoking rules brought to their attention
Plant & Equipment
  • Equipment should be appropriate for the task and it’s working location (consider ventilation/fumes/obstruction of escape routes)
  • Storage and maintenance of equipment is important, to prevent overheating etc
  • Consider where equipment is operated and refuelled, for example only refuel in well-ventilated or open-air locations, never on escape routes or scaffold
  • Bulk flammable fuel should be stored in bunded tanks
  • Operation of petrol/diesel equipment in confined areas can lead to carbon monoxide build-up, so consider electric alternatives
Electrical Equipment
  • Maintenance of temporary lighting is important as they can become an ignition source if damaged
  • Never cover electrical equipment
  • Ensure equipment is cleared of dust (especially vents) before use
  • Recharging of electrical equipment should take place away from ignition sources
  • In areas with a potentially flammable atmosphere (eg fuel storage or when floor laying or paint spraying) ensure electrical equipment is of correct standard (use ATEX 94/9/EC or equivalent explosion protection standard)
Electrical Installations
  • Should be suited to task, and designed, installed, inspected and maintained by competent personnel
  • Should meet BS 7671:2008
  • Risks to consider include: using twin and earth cable instead of flex for extension leads; overriding safety devices such as fuses; overloading sockets
Flammable Liquids/Gases
  • Areas with an explosive atmosphere (spray painting/flammable liquid storage etc) have to be classified into hazardous ‘zones’ and the correct category of explosion-protected equipment used
  • Find more information on Zoning in HSG140 notes (The Safe Use & Handling of Flammable Liquids)
Oxy-Fuel Equipment
  • This should only be used by competent workers
  • HSG139 provides detailed guidance
  • Ensure you use the correct colour-coded hoses, non-return valves etc
Hot Work: Permit-to-Work (PTW) Systems
  • The level of system required is dependent on the risks involved
  • A PTW is a formal system to prevent fire risks and should only be issued by those with assigned authority
  • Points laid out must be complied with before the permit is issued
  • A PTW is specific to task location and period of time: it is not a blanket permit for Hot Work anywhere on site
Bonfires
  • These should be avoided unless absolutely necessary (eg on major road construction clearing)
  • Approval must be given by clients and any relevant authorities
  • If permitted, a FRA be in place and also a permit system
  • Fire size must be limited, eg in a properly designed incinerator
  • Fires must never be left unattended
  • Bonfires must be located away from any areas at risk of catching alight
  • Contents of the fire must be checked before lighting
Arson & Site Security
  • Arson can be a substantial problem on construction sites
  • Trespassers should be prevented from gaining access
  • Flammable liquids and combustible material should be securely stored when the site is closed
  • Consideration should be give to the site location and any history of arson in the vicinity
  • Consider using patrols, security lighting, CCTV and liason with the police
  • Skips are often targetted
  • Procedures should be in place for when a fire is detected
  • Site employees can be responsible, so be aware
Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)
  • DSEAR put duties on the employers and the self-employed to protect people from fires, explosions and similar events in the workplace. This includes members for the public who may be  endangered by work activity
  • Action Points:
  • Find out what dangerous substances are in the workplace and what the fire and explosion risks are
  • Put control measures in place to remove or reduce these risks and put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents
  • Draw up procedures to deal with incidents involving dangerous substances – ensure employees are properly trained to control or deal with the risks from any dangerous substances on site
  • Identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources in those areas (eg from unprotected equipment)
Combustible Materials – Handling & Storage
  • Be aware that nominally flame-retardant materials can become flammable when in dust or fine material form
  • Store flammable materials (eg LPG) outdoors in a secure compound (see HSG168 for detailed guidance)
  • If an internal store is necessary, they should be constructed with 30 minutes fire resistance
  • Ensure paint or flammable liquid stores are not on emergency routes or near fire exits
  • Store access should be controlled to prevent materials getting spread around the site
Acetylene
  • Avoid using acetylene if possible, due to its high flammability
  • Strict storage, usage and transportation regulations apply – see HSG168 for guidance
  • Acetylene must only be used by competent workers
Protective Coatings & Scaffold Nets
  • Protective coverings over finished surfaces should be flame retardant material
  • All scaffold wrapping and netting should  be flame retardant
Rubbish Disposal
  • The Environment Agency enforce the rules for Site Waste Management Plans Regulations
  • The fire risk of all waste produced should be considered when writing the plans
  • Rules must be set and adhered to for the location and disposal of rubbish and skips

Please remember that the list above is a (comparatively!) brief interpretation of the JCoP. For full information, please refer to the full documents, using the links below:

JCoP 9th Edition: Fire Prevention on Construction Sites

HSG168: Fire Safety in Construction

HSG139: The Safe Use of Compressed Gases in Welding, Flame Cutting and Allied Processes

HSG140: Safe Use and Handling of Flammable Liquids

Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR)

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Did you know that an extinguisher is not compliant on-site until it has been commissioned by a competent technician, in accordance with BS 5306-3? Companies with third party accreditation such as the BAFE SP101 scheme can give you, the client, assurance that your extinguishers are fully compliant and safe for use.

As a result of recent fire tragedies, the whole question of competency is very much in the spotlight and contractors need to demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to ensure that they are using competent persons and organisations to advise them on fire safety matters.

Howler UK is a BAFE approved company for both fire extinguishers (SP101) and fire alarm systems (SP203-1) and we are more than happy to advise and help you achieve compliance in this important area.

Phone us on 0330 7000 777 or check out our extinguisher ranges here.

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Fire safety on construction sites is a heavy responsibility but help is readily available to ensure you comply with the relevant regulations and keep your workers as safe as possible. Navigating the many guidance and legislative documents issued can be quite a minefield though, so we have put together a few points to assist you to understand the JCOP and your FRA (Fire Risk Assessment) duties.

The Health & Safety publication, ‘Fire Safety in Construction’ (HSG 168) [http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg168.htm]  & the JCOP (Joint Code of Practice – Fire Prevention in Construction Sites’) are not ‘law’, but they provide guidance which, if followed, will help you comply with the law.

LEGAL & ENFORCEMENT

The specific Regulations (law) which cover fire safety on construction sites include:
•    The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (often called ‘The RRO’ or ‘FSO’) – England & Wales
•    The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 (The FSA)
•    The Dangerous Substances & Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (‘DSEAR’)
•    The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (‘CDM’) (Download the full document at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l153.htm, where you’ll also find other useful documents to help you comply)The ‘Responsible Person’ (this is usually the Principle Contractor, working with their client and other dutyholders. Ultimately the person(s) that have control of the site/premises) has an overarching duty to provide adequate measures to enable people on the construction site to safely and promptly escape from a fire or explosion and reach a place of safety.

Key people involved in fire safety arrangements under the CDM Regulations:
•    The Client
•    The Principal Designer
•    Principal Contractor (basically carries day-to-day responsibility on site)
•    Contractors and Workers

Enforcement is carried out by:
•    The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) – within the curtilage of the construction site
•    Local Authorities
•    Local Fire & Rescue Authorities – outside the curtilage of the construction site

THE FIVE STEPS OF FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT

In addition, you may find the following process chart useful, to assist you in undertaking and understanding your fire risk assessment responsibilities.

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‘Communication is key’ – we all know that, but is any communication better than no communication? That’s questionable, especially when there is so much information around that very little of it actually registers.

In terms of site safety, it could be a serious problem if we don’t get the messages we need.  It must be:

  • Relevant
  • Simple.
  • To-The-Point

And preferably, All In One Place.

Meet the Howler SafePost.

This system is so versatile you can have all the information and safety equipment you need, but nothing you don’t, so you can keep it related to your needs. The registered design incorporates many unique features so click on the link below to find out more and watch our new video showing the SafePost in action.

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Looking for a more budget-friendly radio-linked Howler system? Let us introduce you to our friend the Site Alert RF!

Big on noise and full of features, the Site Alert will cope both indoors and outdoors and although slightly smaller than the standard Howler, still has a whole host of useful safety functions including an auto-disconnect warning, low battery indicator and integral flashing beacon. It is ideal for smaller sites that want an easy and efficient way of raising the alarm.

Centre your Master unit within the building under construction and position your Subsidiary units at strategic positions within range of the Master unit to provide a rapid but very effective evacuation system for your project, along with the Site Alert RF Detector for automatic heat detection.

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Now here’s a fantastic idea – a self-service fire extinguisher! At Howler we have a passion for making fire safety simpler, so this cost-saving, hassle-reducing concept really hits the spot.

  • non-corroding composite body
  • 20 year life-span with 10 year guarantee
  • No costly third-party annual inspection bills for 10 years. At the end of this period the unit is factory tested or service-exchanged with a professionally tested unit.
  • No expensive 5-year discharge test, as is mandatory for conventional foam or powder extinguishers
  • new wider range of extinguishants and sizes including F class for kitchen oil risks and smaller sizes for vehicles
  • foam extinguisher approved for live electrical equipment
  • EN3 approved
  • Fully recyclable: the greenest extinguisher on the 03ket!
  • Estimated savings of up to 50% against traditional extinguishers
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So, what’s the secret of these guys’ popularity? The Site Alert is the living proof that good things come in small packages. Looks great, performs reliably and is a surprisingly tough cookie. Add the competitive price tag and bingo, you’re a winner!

Now in action worldwide, the Site Alert SA01 can be used as a stand alone unit or hard wire linked to form a system. Its family member, the SA02 or Site Alert RF, can be wirelessly linked to form a small wire free system, complete with continuous fault monitoring and automatic low battery warning.

Reliable, simple and tough – that’s Howler!

Click here to find out more about the Site Alert range: SA01 or SA02– you choose!

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As the dust begins to settle following the heart-breaking tragedy at Grenfell Tower, there remain many questions to answer, and no doubt it will be months before we have all the answers we need to make the changes we must make as a country. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with all those directly affected by this catastrophe.

Aside, however, from all the political implications, social discussions and the big question of culpability, we should all take this as a wake-up call in our organisations in relation to fire safety.

Yes, it really could happen to our people. What are we doing to reduce that risk?

So, where do you start your review of your fire safety strategy? The only place to start is with your Fire Risk Assessment. Dig it out, (hopefully you’ve got one – it’s a legal requirement!) and put aside some time to read through it carefully.

Ask yourself:
1)    Are there any outstanding actions which you need to complete?
2)    Are you doing everything that your Fire Risk Assessment says you do?
3)    Have you made any assumptions which need revisiting?
4)    Have there been any changes in the building, your processes or your people which could impact your fire safety arrangements?
5)    Are you keeping up with your testing and maintenance programmes? Are you maintaining records?
6)    Are you up to date with staff training and fire drills?
7)    Have you a sufficiently robust paper trail to prove that you are meeting your legal obligations?
8)    Do you need the help of a professional to answer any of the above questions?

When you’re done, you’ll need to document your Review and draw up a new Action Plan to address any of the concerns that you have raised. It is highly likely that you will want to ask for further advice or support, so feel free to give us a call on 0330 7000 777 or drop us a line.

There’s nothing wrong with not knowing the answers; there is everything wrong with not asking for help!

Image courtesy of Natalie Oxford/Wikipedia

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It has come to our notice that some D Cell alkaline batteries being used by customers as replacements in Howler Alarms are faulty and are causing damage and non-function due to leakage and corrosion.

We recommend the use of either GP Super or Duracell Industrial batteries in our Howler GoLink alarms to ensure the most efficient performance and longest battery life.

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With more options than you can shake a stick at, the Howler Fire Post range is sure to meet your particular site requirements, whether you need maneuverability, higher security, site alarms or simply a highly visible location for your fire extinguishers and site plan.  About the only thing it doesn’t have is a coffee machine (well, you could if you wanted…!)

  • high quality, anti-scratch signage
  • large, easy to roll wheels
  • comfy grip handles
  • correct centre of gravity ensures stability
  • choice of extinguisher brackets, basket or locking cabinet
  • site plan holder with anti-scratch cover
  • choice of Howler site alarms – stand alone or linking to others on site
  • modular design enables the Fire Post to evolve with your changing needs
  • compact – fits through a standard doorway

Watch the FirePost in action and check out the range and full spec HERE. If you want us to talk you through it, or give advice, either call us on +44 (0)330 7000 777 or click HERE to visit our ‘contact us’ page. Either way, we look forward to hearing from you!

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Check out the latest addition to the Howler GoLink family – the new Alarmed Switch Cover! This little extra helps to prevent accidental or non-emergency activation so you can be sure that when the alarm sounds it’s for real.

The cover has to be lifted in order to access the alarm switches, and has a separate, different sounding, alarm to deter non-genuine use. It also protects the switch gear from accidental knocks and bumps on a busy site.

The GoLink Alarmed Switch Cover can be ordered as an option on most of the GoLink range….

Find out more

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Site safety isn’t just about fire – that’s why we introduced the Howler GoLink with First Aid Assistance. Now you’ll be able to call for help using GoLink, and as the control panel will show the location of the incident, assistance will arrive as rapidly as possible: maybe making the difference between life and death for the victim. Separate call buttons ensure GoLink differentiates between ‘fire’ and ‘accident’ so there is no confusion, and options to link to an autodialler, or to activate all beacons on site, ensure GoLink will cater to your individual site needs.

Find out more

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The Howler GoLink evacuation alarm for construction projects has proved itself as a system that is incredibly simple to install and use despite its amazing capacity.

Add the Howler GoLink Interface unit, and you have fantastic versatility.

Linking to turnstiles, CCTV systems, existing alarm systems, autodialers and a host of other devices: that’s just some of the uses for this tough box of tricks, making it welcome on any construction project. Using the Interface unit, activation of any GoLink Alarm can be set to  release turnstiles, activate CCTV or connect to any other relevant system, to ensure your site evacuation is seamlessly integrated.

Because it is fully battery-operated, wirelessly linked and has an IP rated enclosure, the Howler GoLink Interface unit can be mounted where it is most convenient to avoid trailing cables which are in danger of being removed or damaged.

Got a situation where you feel the Howler GoLink System complete with interface unit could provide the answer? Please call us to discuss your challenge and to arrange a demonstration: 0330 7000 777 Or email us on [email protected]

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The new Howler SafePost is purpose built to display your important fire, first aid, health, spill and general site safety information in one place in a professional, attention-grabbing manner.

  • Portable, so it’s easy to move from place to place as your site progresses
  • Durable, so it will stand up to the rigours of site use
  • Versatile, as it can be configured in many different ways, with options to suit your particular site
  • Personalised, as you can add your own site plans, site rules and bulletins
  • Cost-effective, as everything is in one place and you only buy what you need

It works as a safety ‘hub’ for the workers on your site and you can personalise it to suit the day-to-day changes – your site plans, your message for today.

Find out more

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There is a lot of discussion in the construction industry regarding BS EN54 and its application to temporary fire warning systems. For most people outside of the fire industry, it is a bit a minefield trying to navigate around the BSI’s multitude of standards, so we thought a brief overview might help some people out there.

What is BS EN54?

BS EN54 is a suite of standards applicable to the components of a permanent fire alarm system. There is a different part of the standard for each component, for example:

Part 2 – Control and Indicating Equipment (CIE)

Part 7 – Smoke detectors

Part 11 – Manual call points

Part 25 – Radio linked components

Fire safety professionals will never specify a fire alarm system compliant with BS EN54, because in itself BS EN54 gives you no indication of what the overall fire alarm system should look like. Instead we refer to BS 5839-1, which cross-references to BS EN54.

What is BS 5839-1?

This standard tells you how to put your BS EN54 components together to form an effective permanent fire alarm system in commercial premises. There are a number of categories within the standard (e.g. M, L1, L2 etc.) that dictate where automatic detection should be sited within the building. It also makes additional requirements in relation to the components themselves. Therefore, even if the components comply with BS EN54, they will not automatically comply with BS 5839-1.

If your system is to conform to BS 5839-1, it must be designed, installed, and commissioned by a ‘competent person’ – usually a fire alarm company. Such systems are seldom applicable to a construction project, for the simple reason that everything is changing on a daily basis, and therefore can never be properly completed. It is more appropriate in some temporary accommodation where the building is of a semi-permanent nature.

Is a BS EN54 site alarm better than a non-BS EN54 site alarm?

No, not at all. Quite simply because BS EN54 is not written for the rigors of a construction site, there are a number of areas in which BS EN54 components do not lend themselves to use on a construction site, and fall short of the practical requirements for such environments.

For more information on this topic, please contact us.

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The 9th Edition of the Joint Code of Practice on the Protection from Fire on Construction Sites and Buildings Undergoing Refurbishment (popularly known as the JCOP), has been recently released. The main changes seek to bring the document in line with the CDM Regulations.

As far as fire alarm systems are concerned there have been no significant changes, and the definition of a ‘fire alarm system’ remains unchanged: “any means utilised for giving warning of fire on a site. The most basic system may be no more than a hand-held siren or manually operated gong. Certain sites by their size and nature may require a ‘break glass’ call-points which, when broken, electronically operate bells, klaxons or sirens.”  The FPA have confirmed that this is intended to differentiate from a conventional fire alarm system complying with BS 5839-1, which are designed for permanent or semi-permanent buildings. The ever changing nature of construction sites means that compliance with BS 5839-1 would be virtually impossible, and very expensive to achieve.

There is a new requirement for automatic detection to be provided in ‘enclosed spaces’ (i.e. once the building has been enclosed) in large timber frame buildings. Where the sites are not manned 24 hours a day, this detection should be linked to a monitoring station.

The JOCP has always required a fire alarm system compliant with BS 5839-1 to be installed in a Temporary Buildings and Temporary Accommodation in certain circumstances and the FPA have confirmed that there has been no change to this, namely:

  • Temporary buildings inside the building under construction
  • Inside another permanent building
  • Within 10m of such building(s)
  • Where flammable liquids and gases are stored
  • Where cooking, or drying of clothes takes place

The 9th edition has added a reference to the fact that components of the BS 5839-1 systems should be 03ked as complying with BS EN54, but this is somewhat superfluous, since the installer could not certificate the system if this were not the case.

It is important to understand that BS 5839-1 makes additional requirements to BS EN54, and just because your components comply with BS EN54 does not automatically mean that your system complies with BS 5839-1! No system will comply with BS 5839-1 unless it has a control panel compliant with BS EN54-2.

If you have specific questions about the JCOP, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Purchase your own copy

You can purchase a copy of the new Joint Code of Practice through the Fire Protection Association (FPA) website.

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