Renovation Under Fire by Richard Conner   

Renovations are a part of life for a commercial building. Whether they're renovations due to tenant changes or upgrades in an aging building, many facilities undergo renovations that coincide with the changing needs of the facilities. This became more of the norm as the economic environment stunted growth in new construction in recent years. Repurposing buildings or adding on became a viable option when investments were scarce. But where there is construction in an existing building, there is risk of fire.

Maybe it's just me, but I've noticed an increasing number of reports of fires in commercial buildings undergoing renovations. Just a simple internet search will show at least a dozen fires in the U.S. over the last few months. These buildings range from commercial office buildings to apartment buildings. From an electrical problem to a spark caused by construction equipment, these fires have caused millions of dollars in damage. Fortunately, the buildings are less likely to be occupied due to the fact that they are being renovated except for some apartment buildings. Unfortunately, it’s a topic that doesn’t seem to get much attention. What are the causes for these fires?

According to an old study by NFPA, the leading causes of fires in buildings under construction were incendiary or suspicious (39.5%); open flame, embers or torches (20.8%); and heating equipment (9.7%)[1]. One could surmise that vandalism and insurance fraud are probably root causes for suspicious fires. Nevertheless, fires started by any reason are devastating to the building and dangerous to firefighters who risk their lives.

What do you think can be done to prevent these fires during times of renovation? Has much changed in the last decade and what could be done about it? We want to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Richard Conner is the Director of Marketing for Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight and Honeywell Power. Richard joined Honeywell in 2002 and has over 15 years of experience in the fire alarm industry in Marketing, Engineering, and Product Support positions. Richard is responsible for developing brand strategy and marketing programs for all brands.

[1] Structure Fires in Vacant or Idle Properties, or Properties Under Construction, Demolition or Renovation, NFPA Fire Analysis and Research Division, Quincy, MA, August 2001.

Published  on  5/8/2014  by  Honeywell
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