San Francisco contractors at risk of safety liability
SEVEN months on since a pioneering US fire safety update and there are still concerns contractors are not fully aware of the potentially liable and life-threatening situations occurring on construction sites – according to leading wireless solutions provider Ramtech.
At the start of 2023, the San Francisco Fire Department introduced a revision to its regulatory fire code, requiring all wood-frame buildings to use an approved temporary wireless fire detection and notification system during construction.
The decision was praised by Ramtech and North American distribution partner, Space Age Electronics, with both organisations citing the high level of fire risk in a city as built up as San Francisco.
But while the changes are still within the first year of enforcement, awareness is still needed among fire departments and general contractors to ensure projects are not left at risk. This includes livelihoods and site assets, as well as project timelines, with the code change now forming part of the planning process for new building permits.
Will Rutledge, business development manager at Ramtech, said: “This reviewed code was a pioneering moment for US construction and for San Francisco. But it only works if everyone involved, from contractors to insurers, regulatory bodies to trade associations, are educated and up to speed on the risks, most importantly for protecting lives, but also for the higher penalties that could come in the case of a fire.”
It comes following a report in August where more than 100 San Francisco firefighters were called out to an apartment building that had become engulfed in flames, with the service recording it as a ‘four alarm’ incident; catastrophic level.
The building was under construction and luckily, uninhabited, with no one injured, however the fire damage had spread to five nearby buildings and left eight people homeless.
While the risk of fire is always present, having the protection of a 24/7 safety system that can alert teams out of hours, is a no-brainer. As well as helping to save lives, it also prevents huge costs in damage and impacts to construction timescales that contractors simply cannot afford.
Joe Beecher, vice president of sales at Ramtech, said: “Relying on manual watches and air horns is an outdated method of fire safety, so these changes are an improvement for all contractors to pay attention to. But now, with the addition of the new code, wireless intervention is a must, and all fire safety professionals need to be educated on the liability risks they face if workers are not alerted to a potential fire.
“Through our North American partners and on-the-ground teams, we will continue to support site managers, contractors and AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction), ensuring they have the information they need to adhere to best practice and compliant safety standards.”
Ramtech’s Wireless Evacuation System (WES) is fully compliant with the new San Francisco Fire Code and is specifically developed for the needs of construction sites.