San Francisco contractors may face safety liabilities, warns Ramtech

October 27, 2023

Wireless solutions provider, Ramtech, has expressed concerns over the apparent lack of awareness among contractors regarding the significant safety liabilities present at construction sites.

Code changes yet to be fully embraced

Seven months following a significant update to the US fire safety regulations, many contractors may not yet be fully aware of the potentially serious and life-threatening situations unfolding at construction sites.

At the beginning of 2023, the San Francisco Fire Department implemented a revised fire code.

This revision mandates that all wood-frame structures utilize a sanctioned temporary wireless fire detection and notification system throughout the construction phase.

Ramtech and their North American distribution ally, Space Age Electronics, lauded this decision, both pointing out the considerable fire risk in densely populated areas like San Francisco.

Awareness and education remain paramount

Although these updates are still in the early stages of enforcement, there remains a pressing need to enhance awareness among both fire departments and general contractors.

This awareness is crucial to safeguarding not only project timelines and assets but also people’s livelihoods.

The new code is now integrated into the planning stage for new building permit applications.

Will Rutledge, business development manager at Ramtech, commented: “This reviewed code was a pioneering moment for US construction and for San Francisco.

“But it only works if everyone involved, from contractors to insurers, regulatory bodies to trade associations, are educated and up to speed on the risks, most importantly for protecting lives, but also for the higher penalties that could come in the case of a fire.”

The ongoing risk of fire

In a recent August report, over 100 San Francisco firefighters responded to an apartment building engulfed in flames.

The fire, recorded as a ‘four alarm’ incident, affected a building under construction.

Fortunately, the building was unoccupied, and there were no casualties. However, the fire damaged five adjacent buildings, displacing eight residents.

The ever-present fire risk underscores the essential role of a 24/7 safety system capable of sending alerts even outside regular working hours.

Such a system not only saves lives but also averts significant financial losses and construction delays.

Joe Beecher, vice president of sales at Ramtech, shared: “Relying on manual watches and air horns is an outdated method of fire safety, so these changes are an improvement for all contractors to pay attention to.

“But now, with the addition of the new code, wireless intervention is a must, and all fire safety professionals need to be educated on the liability risks they face if workers are not alerted to a potential fire.”

Ramtech’s commitment to safety

Through collaborations with North American partners and local teams, Ramtech remains dedicated to assisting site managers, contractors, and AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction).

Their goal is to ensure that all relevant parties have the information necessary to maintain best practices and meet safety standards.

Ramtech’s Wireless Evacuation System is in full compliance with the new San Francisco Fire Code and is tailor-made for construction site requirements.

FSJA Comment

The recent fire safety code revisions by the San Francisco Fire Department and Ramtech’s involvement highlight an ongoing need for rigorous fire safety standards, particularly in dense urban environments.

As construction techniques and materials evolve, so too should our approach to safety.

This situation underscores the necessity for industry stakeholders to remain informed, adaptive, and proactive in ensuring that construction sites are as safe as possible for workers, residents, and surrounding communities.

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