Wood-Frame Construction Fire Risks and Security (2 of 2)

Submitted by: Susanna Chu

Fire.jpgIn our last blog, we talked about how fire has consumed major wood-frame construction projects across North America recently, resulting in hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in damage. Firefighters recommend that developers and contractors have a fire safety plan in place and activate all fire protection systems as soon as they are installed.

So what role does remote video monitoring, like Radius’ Redhanded solution, play in preventing such fires? None, really. Radius clients are often surprised we do not take on security for wood-frame construction projects. Our chief rationale is that it isn’t your best line of defence. The most advanced security camera cannot smell a fire or aim a fire extinguisher. Even if it were equipped with a smoke detector, an outdoor one is by definition not reliable. It is impossible to predict which way the wind will blow and dissipate smoke.

Typically, to protect outdoor assets, remote video monitoring cameras are directed at the site perimeters and open areas, not at or into the structure under construction. Video analytics software is not currently designed to pick up on flames. At most, it could alert you to a potential arsonist on site, but this is not enough to prevent all wood-frame construction fires.

And even the most alert Radius operator cannot promise to put out a fire within three minutes. That’s how much time you have to stop a wood-frame building under construction from going up in flames. Three to four minutes.

The best protection against wood-frame fire is to have alert on-site security guards and staff who are well-trained to use an extinguisher. At the first whiff of smoke, they must respond immediately. If you’re rusty when it comes to using an extinguisher, here is a refresher:

  1. Pull the pin at the top of the extinguisher.
  2. Aim at the base of the fire, from a safe distance.
  3. Stand firmly and slowly move the extinguisher from left to right.
  4. As the fire shrinks, move closer.
  5. Make sure the fire stays out and call the fire department, if you haven’t already.
  6. Recharge your extinguisher.

Despite these facts, some security providers will try to sell you more surveillance cameras for your wood-frame construction site. It can’t hurt, right? That's what one developer near Oakland, CA, thought. After being struck by arson once, he installed 14 surveillance cameras and hired two security guards. The site was struck again, the same way, with the same results. At Radius, we would much rather be honest with you. Instead of selling you a system that won’t do the best job for what you need, we advise you to put in place a fire safety plan and proper training. That is your best chance for protecting your wood-frame property.


Note: This blog discusses general safety and security topics. It is not intended to provide comprehensive advice or guidance. In all matters of personal safety and security, we encourage readers to research topics in depth and consult a security professional about specific concerns.


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