6 Reasons Why Fires In High-Rise Buildings Become Deadly
In the Indian Risk Survey (IRS), 2016, fire breakout was mentioned as the eighth biggest risk to continuity of business, and in 2018 survey, it climbed to number 3! The high jump in ranking attributes to the non-compliance of safety norms followed by the facilities as well as under-equipped fire services in the country.
As per the Home Ministry Data of 2017, India had a meager 2,987 fire stations in 2012 against the requirement of 8,559 fire stations – a shortfall of 65%! The report further adds a requirement of trained fire personnel, firefighting equipment, and firefighting vehicles.
Consider the above facts and imagine living or working in a high-rise building with ineffective fire safety norms? The thought in itself is scary. Fires can be deadly in high-rise buildings as escaping from taller buildings is inherently difficult. One cannot overlook the need for a proper fire exit route while designing high-rise structures. The safety of inhabitants cannot be risked at any cost.
The new structures are paying particular heed to build a safe and sound fire exit routes. However, a significant risk lies with the existing old structures where the buildings don’t comply with the fire-safety norms.
Here are the top six factors that make fires in high-rise buildings deadly:
- Absence of or faulty fire alarm systems
The most common reason that makes a fire breakout deadly in any building, be it commercial, residential or institutional, is the absence of fire alarm systems or a faulty alarm system. More often than not, builders don’t pay much importance to install the fire alarm systems. A fully-working fire alarm system is a must-have any high-rise building. In the event of a fire, these systems not only raise alarms but can also active fire suppression systems and mitigate the risks.
- Inefficient fire exits
The fire exits need to be carefully designed to help rescue the inhabitants of the building during a fire breakout as well as any other emergency. The inefficient fire exits are the ones that don’t provide a safe route to exit a building. Having a fire exit that opens to the staircase which is prone to be consumed by fire is as good as not having any fire exit. The fire exit should provide an easy escape to an open space. What is also important is that the inhabitants should be properly notified and trained to use the fire exist in case of an emergency.
- Monitoring the functioning of the fire detection system
Having a functional fire detection system is not enough. Monitoring the fire detection system is equally important. The facilities management tend to ignore the importance of monitoring the fire systems in the building. In many recent instances where massive fires broke out in high-rise residential buildings, the fire department found out that the fire detection systems in those buildings were non-functional. If manual checking of the systems on a regular basis is difficult, such buildings can choose technology solutions like Firetweet, which help in 24 X 7 automated monitoring of the fire systems.
- Old or obsolete fire alarms
This problem is peculiar in old structures. The old buildings keep functioning with old and obsolete fire alarms that may fail to alarm the management and the inhabitants of the building in case of fire. The most dangerous thing about old fire alarms is that as people get a little less careful knowing that there are fire alarms to warn them in case of an emergency.
- Non-working Fire Sprinkler System
The best fire system is the one that does not only alarm the people in the building about a fire breakout but also provides means to diffuse the fire to protect the people and the property while the fire-fighters arrive at the location. It is therefore important for high-rise buildings to have fire sprinklers installed on every floor. In many cases, these systems are completely non-functional.
- Unusable Fire Extinguishers
The most common sigh in any new or old building is the presence of fire extinguishers. But, the issues with fire extinguishers are:
- Inability to use those without spending considerable time in reading the instruction
- The fire extinguishers are heavy for a single person to handle
It is, therefore, advisable to have portable fire-extinguishers at every floor of a high-rise building. These extinguishers can be carried easily in case of an emergency. The building staff, as well as inhabitants, should be trained to use these fire extinguishers.
The higher a building, the greater the risk of damage during a fire breakout. It is essential for a high-rise building to have an effective and working fire management system including fire exits, fire detection, and fire extinguishing systems in place.
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