Building or remodeling a home is an exciting time filled with many decisions. A consideration often overlooked is the importance of fire protection during this time when your home is most susceptible to fire due to construction-related activities.
Luckily there are a number of simple and cost-effective solutions that will significantly reduce the threat fire poses to your home:
- Install and activate a temporary fire and burglar alarm system reporting to a central station once the home is fully enclosed with roof, doors and windows. Because smoke detectors are susceptible to false activation from construction dust, heat sensors are better suited for temporary fire detection. If permanent power is not yet available, a temporary power source can be used. Cellular communication to the alarm monitoring station will suffice if an active phone line is not yet available.
- Fire extinguishers should be kept in highly visible locations throughout the jobsite. Multi-purpose extinguishers (Type ABC) of at least 10 lbs. are recommended.
- Because of the increased threat of arson and vandalism while your home is unoccupied, security fencing should be installed and kept locked on weekends and non-working hours. Motion-activated lighting, video surveillance systems and security guards are additional options that will substantially reduce the risk of unwanted visitors or trespass.
- Smoking should be prohibited with no-smoking signs posted in visible locations throughout the jobsite.
- Flammable liquids like paints, varnishes and solvents should be stored in an approved flammable storage cabinet. The cabinet should be locked during non-working hours.
- Oily rags should be disposed of in U.L.-approved fireproof cans due to the risk of spontaneous combustion.
- Because many commonly used construction materials are highly combustible, the jobsite should be thoroughly cleaned and all extension cords should be disconnected at the end of each work day.
- If your home is in an area susceptible to wildfire or not serviced by a public fire hydrant, advanced planning should be made with your nearest responding fire department regarding defensible space from flammable vegetation requirements, adequate turn around space for fire crews and equipment, and installation of and/or use of alternative water sources.
It is important to discuss these loss prevention measures with your general contractor before construction begins. These established protocols will help keep your home safe during this critically important time.
John Hunt is a Premier Account Specialist with Chubb Personal Risk Services’ Risk Consulting Group. His diverse background includes experience in the building trades as well as 20+ years’ experience in the insurance industry.