Fire Safety In High – Rise Buildings
Larger and devastating fires took places in numerous high rise building causing loss of life and property. It is difficult to fight a high rise building fire as it quickly spreads upwards (due to Chimney Effect) and the external fire fighting appliances may not be able to reach higher floors. Evacuating people especially invalids, old persons and children, without panic poses practical difficulty in most case.
Fire loss can be prevented through careful observance of precautionary measures.
LEGISLATION / REGULATIONS
- Development Control Regulation/ Bye-Laws of Municipalities.
- National Building Codes of India, 2005 – part IV Fire & Life’s Safety.
- A.P. Fire Services Act 1999 & Fire and Emergency Operations and Levy of Fee Rules 2006.
- Lay out should ensure adequate fire separation between buildings to minimize Fire spread possibility.
- Enough space to be provided for movement of fire fighting vehicles ambulances.
- Enclosure of 2-Hour fire resistance for staircases and lift wells.
- Wide staircases and lobbies to permit orderly evacuation in emergency.
- Pressurization of these areas will keep them free of smoke.
- Critical areas such as refuge areas to be protected by fire proof doors.
- Fire lift for exclusive use to fire fighters.
- Electrical wiring in metal conduits.
- Emergency switches at ground floor for disconnecting power, floor-wise.
- In central air conditioning (A/C) system, provide automatic Fire dampers (in the common duct) for each floor or occupancy.
- Individual A/C system for each occupancy or for each floor is preferred to central A/C System.
- Openings in the cable passageways (from duct to floors) to be closed.
- Alternate power supply for staircase & corridor lighting circuits, fire lifts and stand by fire Pump.
- Fire detection & /alarm System, Hose reel, Wet Risers, Yard hydrant, automatic Sprinkler and Water reservoir and fire Pumps as per National Building Code of India table 23 Part IV NBC of India, 2005.
- Minimize combustible materials for furnishing. Use fire retardant material for false ceiling, partitions and upholstery.
- Develop a simple, written fire safety plan which should include precautions for Fire prevention at occupant’s level, fire control by the building maintenance/security team and the emergency plan covering evacuation procedure.
- All occupants should know clearly how to identify/raise Fire alarm, call fire brigade, tackle fire and evacuate safely.
- Ensure good maintenance of fire appliances.
- Check periodically availability of dedicated water for fire fighting.
- Undertake fire drills and mock exercise for evacuation.
- Have stringent controls against over loading of electrical circuits, accumulation of chemicals and flammables, and storage of materials in the staircase, lobbies and fire escape stairways.
DURING FIRE EMERGENCY
- Keep the doors and windows shut to prevent ingress of heat and smoke.
- Evacuate without panic, but quickly. Do not waste time in collecting things.
- Do not use lifts as they may malfunction.
- If fire is in an upper floor, proceed to lower floors and eventually to outside the building. If fire is in a lower floor, use judgment and decide the evacuation direction. Try to reach refuge area, if provided in the building.
- Remember that floor level will be free from smoke for longer time.