High-quality construction projects start with lots of planning and research. Developers and contractors must balance many factors, such as budget, energy efficiency, durability, and appearance. When investing in commercial property, safety should always be the top priority.
Don’t Make Fire Protection an Afterthought
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that within “eight minutes, a fire is beyond the room of origin, and people are eight times as likely to die in a building fire after those eight minutes.”
In order to ensure the safety of tenants and workers, contractors must consider fire protection very early in the construction project. Failure to make fire protection a priority during the planning and research phase can have serious consequences.
Reasons Contractors Should Work with Fire Protection Experts
Contractors should involve fire protection experts early in their construction development to save time and money.
Avoid Confusion about Fire Code Requirements
It can be confusing what the fire requirements for the structure and building components are. For example, single-family homes and residential buildings differ from a commercial building in terms of what fire safety equipment is required (e.g. sprinkler systems).
These requirements typically become stricter as the space increases in size and occupant capacity. It’s also important to consider the safety obstacles the building’s structure creates outside of the legal requirements.
- Can the fire department easily control a fire in the planned building?
- Will it be easy for those with physical handicaps to enter and exit the building?
Leave Room in the Construction Budget for Fire Alarm Systems
Fire protection systems account for only a small percentage of the contractor’s budget for commercial and residential spaces, about 1 to 1.5 percent of the total cost. And yet, retrofitting a fire protection system into a fully built space can cost about 50% more than that original budget.
Retrofitting Systems Doubles Costs
It is important to plan for what kind of fire protection system is needed early to avoid any last-minute changes and high costs. Further, the small cost of fire protection systems can lead to big benefits.
In the United States, a fire protection system costs roughly $1.35 per square foot. However, the damage caused by a fire can cost families and business owners up to $100,000.
The Risk of Fire has Increased with Modern Building Materials
Modern building materials are incredibly flammable. Thirty years ago, families had approximately 17 minutes to escape a house fire. However, today it’s about three minutes. This is because 30 years ago buildings were made from real wood and natural materials.
However, most new construction is made from cheaper synthetic materials that are highly flammable. With so little time to escape a fire, spaces must be fitted with proper fire protection.
Teamwork Between Contractors and Fire Protection Experts Saves Time and Money
With demand for buildings increasing in terms of appearance, structure, cost, and safety, it’s more important than ever that contractors and developers properly balance these often-competing goals.
Maximizing the fire safety of a building requires teamwork between contractors, developers, and fire alarm experts like Allegiant. Planning for fire safety in the early stages of construction can reduce costs, increase the safety of occupants, and ensure that all legal requirements are met.