Utah State Fire Marshal explains fire dangers at large construction sites

Oct 26, 2022, 6:36 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Following the large fire that broke out overnight in the Sugar House area, Utah State Fire Marshal Ted Black said there’s always a period of risk while a building is under construction.

Crews are still investigating what led to the four-alarm fire Tuesday night.

Black said while a building is under construction, all of the safety measures are also under construction.

He said things like fire alarms and sprinkler systems aren’t installed yet.

“We have building and fire codes to help protect these buildings and systems in those buildings, but none of those systems are in place to protect the building during construction,” Black said.

He said fire extinguishers and fire hydrants are available, and in some buildings standpipes are put it in to help firefighters get to higher floors faster.

“It’s really just an extension of our hose, but that allows us to get to the fire faster if it’s on one of those upper levels,” Black said.

He explained even with these tools, there are many objects on a construction site, such as wood, propane heaters, and welding materials that are combustible.

“You have highly flammable materials, you have lots of oxygen because of the way that they’re built and you don’t have the systems in place to protect those,” Black said. “Once the building’s constructed all the systems, the alarm systems, the fire sprinkling system, and in some cases standpipe systems, fire-rated walls and so forth all work together to protect the public and the people that live there.”

Black also pointed out stairwells are often unfinished in situations like this which makes it even more difficult for firefighters to put out the flames. He said it was, without a doubt, a challenging fire to fight.

“That was large hot fire, it’s like a campfire with lots and lots of wood on it so they burn fast,” Black said. “It takes a great effort by the fire department, Salt Lake City, and those who assisted them last night.”

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Utah State Fire Marshal explains fire dangers at large construction sites