By now, we’ve probably all heard about the tragic fire that engulfed Grenfell Tower in London. The result is a massive amount of criticism on the local government and the building managers. Did they know the building was at risk? Could it have been prevented?
London is not the sole victim of tragic fires. In March of this year, a 240-unit complex in Raleigh, NC, burned down in a five-alarm fire. Between 2010 and 2014, there were over one hundred thousand apartment fires in the United States, causing over four hundred deaths and $1.2 million in property damages.
Many U.S. builders work hard to ensure their residents safety and employ top safety standards. And in the U.S., NFPA 241 does require that builders take measures “for preventing or minimizing fire damage to structures, including those in underground locations, during construction, alteration, or demolition.”
How Builders Are Keeping You Safe
So what steps are American builders taking to protect their residents? Read on to see how builders are working safety measures into new construction in order to keep you and your family safe.
- Lumber is the most popular building material, hands down, but it’s unfortunately also the most combustible naturally. Enter fire resistance: American Wood Association reports that structural wood framing can be specially treated to be fire-resistant, and when paired with other non-combustible interior materials, can help halt or slow the spread of fires.
- For multi-unit buildings, the development of a fire prevention program and establishing a pre-fire plan with the local fire department in case of emergency helps ensure the safety and protection of residents and their families.
- Including fire sprinklers in their homes. In a recent study, just one sprinkler was enough to control 90% of fires!
- Fire-resistant decks, to prevent fires spreading from discarded cigarettes or a stray barbecue grill flame.
- Using fire-resistant insulation. Mineral wool insulation, for example, can withstand heat in excess of 1,800 degrees F.
- Installing fire alarms.
How You Can Protect Your Home
Sadly, it isn’t enough to rely on the materials and practices builders use in your home. Between 2010 and 2014, unattended cooking equipment was responsible for 46% of fires. Make sure to stay safe, and keep these tips in mind:
- Never leave a running stove unattended.
- Properly dispose of cigarettes after use.
- Regularly check electrical cords in your home for signs of fraying.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy and near your kitchen.
- If you have a fireplace, be sure to have your chimney inspected annually and never burn cardboard, wrapping paper, trash, or trees. It’s best to only use seasoned wood.