Developing a holistic fire risk assessment framework for building construction sites in Hong Kong

J.F.Y. Yeung, Daniel Wai Ming Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Amongst all types of construction accidents, industrial practitioners tend to pay less attention to the prevention of fires at construction sites. Although fires may not occur frequently on construction sites, statistics show that when they do, the consequences are very serious; involving fatalities, injuries, serious project delays and financial loss. There are many reasons why fires occur on sites, but a simple lack of awareness of the risks of fire is a major contributor. Fire risk assessment is not commonly performed on sites. Hence, it is believed that an appropriate assessment method for evaluating potential fire risk is required in order to improve the awareness of fire risk on construction sites. This paper reports on the key findings of a research project which aims to develop a comprehensive, objective, reliable, and practical fire risk assessment framework for building construction sites based in Hong Kong. A comprehensive list of those factors (or conditions) which may constitute a fire risk was compiled using desktop research and structured face-to-face interviews with experienced site personnel. This list of factors was then used to develop a questionnaire survey form and the Reliability Interval Method (RIM) was used to analyse the survey results and determine the relative importance and rankings of the various fire risk factors at a broad level and risk sub-factors at a detailed level. It was found that the fire risk factor of “Fire Services Equipment and Installations” has the greatest impact on construction site fire safety, with “Means of Escape in Case of Fire” being the second, and “Attitude of Main Contractor towards Fire Safety” being the third. In fact, it is the main contractor who plays the pivotal role in maintaining construction site fire safety, which is in line with the high ranking
given to the fire risk factor of “Attitude of Main Contractor towards Fire Safety”. The proposed fire risk assessment framework can be used to develop a useful checklist for assessing the overall level of fire risk for a construction site, and to identify any areas needing improvement. Although the fire risk assessment framework was developed locally in Hong Kong, the research methodology could be replicated in other countries to produce similar frameworks for international comparison. Such an extension would aid the understanding of the management of fire risk on construction sites and help discover differences between countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-58
JournalJournal of Construction Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Fire risk assessment
  • Building construction sites
  • Hong Kong

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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