Experts at the New York Fire Safety Academy set fire to eight construction site shanties during a test earlier this month to determine which were safest for workers.
It is the first research project scheduled by the Fire Safety Academy on Randall’s Island to identify materials and processes that will limit exposure to fires and fire-related incidents on New York City construction sites.
Burning one per hour beginning at 7:30 a.m., the shanties were made with a variety of building materials including sheetrock, fire-rated plywood, sheet metal, metal studs, Sherwin Williams Flame Control Coating, and more.
In addition, the performance of each shanty’s fire alarm systems and extinguishing agents, such as ABC extinguishers with sprinkler heads and the Catch a Smoker notification system were tested.
In the sheetrock shanty, the ABC extinguisher curtailed the flames but did not extinguish them entirely. However, the ABC extinguisher worked successfully in a fire-treated, metal-wrapped shanty.
Without being treated with an extinguisher, the fire-treated, metal-wrapped shanty was consumed by the flames in less than four minutes.
On the other hand, a sheet metal shanty burned for 30 minutes without collapsing, though it did buckle at the sides. Another test took place in a sheetrock structure with a 50/50 wonderboard and sheetrock interior and 50/50 durarock and plywood floor. Though the insides were burned, the actual structure of that shanty was mostly undamaged.
A knock-down, fire-rated shanty was covered with Sherwin Williams Flame Control Coating and a sprinkler system was used to extinguish the fire. Although the sprinkler system was successful, this particular method would not be feasible on a construction site due to a lack of temporary water sources.
The Catch A Smoker and Fit Pro fire suppressions systems saw successful results in another knock-down, fire-rated shanty.
In attendance were representatives from the New York City Department of Buildings, including Christopher M. Santulli, P.E., Acting Assistant Commissioner of Engineering & Safety Operations and Eugene J. Cocoran, Deputy Commissioner, Regulatory Policy and Enforcement. Chief Thomas Jensen and Battalion Chief Thomas Piggott. FDNY Bureau of Fire Prevention, represented FDNY for the test. Members of the FDNY Fire Academy, Randall’s Island, were available to aid in properly executing the shanty burn.
The New York Fire Safety Academy (NYFSA) provides educational programs for construction industry personnel on fire prevention and fire safety in order to eliminate fires on jobsites and prepare personnel properly in the event of a fire.
NYFSA collaborates with construction managers, the FDNY, the Department of Buildings, and the BTEA to develop the most effective programs. NYFSA also works to research new areas and establish best practices in fire safety and prevention in construction.