Contractor Fire Safety

Buildings under construction have a greater potential for significant property damage from fire, especially before fire suppression systems are installed and operational.

With walls often not yet complete, void spaces can create a wind tunnel effect during a fire, intensifying the flames. Firefighters may be unable to safely enter unfinished buildings, which may have unprotected stairwells and other dangerous conditions. Often, they have to take a defensive position to contain the fire to the construction site.

Hot work operations pose a significant risk because they can introduce ignition sources into the work site. A spark can smolder and ignite combustibles many hours after welding, soldering, grinding or other hot work has been completed, oftentimes after workers have left for the evening. 

Hot work operations must adhere to the SMU Hot Work Program and obtain a permit. This includes work being conducted by staff, faculty, students, and contractors. 

For permits, please report to Dawson Service Center, 3050 Dyer Court, Suite 100, Dallas, TX 75205.
If you have questions, please contact the Fire Safety and Emergency Manager in the Office of Risk Management at or 214-768-1550.

Unsecured construction sites may be at risk of vandalism, theft and arson. Having a layered approach to security, including perimeter controls, fencing, lighting, and electronic intrusion detection systems, can help reduce the risk of unauthorized entry to the site.

While having a break area on-site is acceptable, workers should not be allowed to bring any cooking equipment, such as grills, hot plates, or small microwave ovens to the construction site.

All flammable and combustible liquids, solids, and gases should be used and stored so that they do not pose a fire hazard to the site. Limit the number of flammables and combustibles inside the building when under construction and designate safe storage locations.

Until fire sprinklers are functional, fire extinguishers should be distributed throughout the job site. Standpipes and fire hydrants should be identified and remain unobstructed to assist firefighting operations in containing fires and minimizing damage. Automatic sprinklers should be placed into service progressively as construction progress allows.

Cordless tools and other battery-run equipment present risks of overheating and igniting fires. Battery charging stations should be outside the structure and stored in a safe location while construction activities are in progress.

Smoking presents a serious fire risk to any construction site. A strict “no smoking” policy will be communicated to all employees and subcontractors. Designated smoking areas will be identified to lessen the fires risk due to ash or carelessly discarded cigarettes.

All temporary electrical service lighting should be installed in accordance with National Electric Code (NEC) standards. Systems and lighting should be maintained and regularly inspected by the electrical contractor.

All temporary heaters should be UL Listed and used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. Maintain safe distances from combustible materials. Never allow others to bring temporary heaters onto job sites without approval.