Last year, in just a short span of 6 months, Mumbai alone witnessed 12 major reported fires which claimed 22 lives. From the Kamala Mills tragedy to the Maimoon Building fire in Marol, despite major incidents, history continued to repeat itself.
2019’s Indian Risk Survey reports that “fire outbreak” is the third largest threat to businesses. What’s more, is that this seems to be an urban problem – among all of the deaths caused by building fires in 2015, 81% were recorded from 20 different Indian cities.
In 2000, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, has been routinely flagging the Capital for not complying with the standard safety norms and for being under-equipped fire services. Despite this, the volume of distress and SOS calls received by the Delhi Fire services increased to more than 27,000 annually.
As providers of solutions in the fire safety department, we have identified one, the major underlying issue, which is the lack of fire safety implementation in business strategy. In this blog, we will cover the 5 pillars of fire safety strategy that businesses should care about.
The best way to contain a fire is to prevent it. While safeguarding a structure from fire, one must consider the possible threats and causes. Kitchens and battery rooms are certainly high-risk areas, as are parking lots. Each area presents its own unique set of risks and possibilities of accidents. So, they must be systematically approached.
An important preventive measure is installing gas detectors. These will not be standard and will vary from zone to zone because they deal with different kinds of gases. To delve deeper into the gas detectors that are essential for any building, click here. Besides gas detectors, it’s important to have a formal risk assessment to see that all of the electrical appliances are compliant and working. Faulty wiring is a major risk and must be dealt with. Another preventive measure is to demarcate smoking zones. Improperly stubbed cigarettes buds are among some of the leading causes of fires. Make sure that high-risk zones are smoke-free, and that smoking zones have plenty of sand filled bins for the ash. Smoke detectors and heat sensors are also a must. Read about your options here. Automatic door release systems should also be deployed to open pressure sealed doors and facilitate evacuation.
If there is ever a case where a spark is undetected and bursts into a flame, then addressable fire alarms are what can save the structure. Addressable fire alarm systems are integrated with detection systems and will raise the alarm in case of any trigger related to a fire. This means that any detection of unusual activity such as smoke or raise in temperature will sound of an alarm. This gives you time to alert the authorities and evacuate on time.
Ground rules are that the structure must be well designed to facilitate easy evacuation. Signage is also very important since wayfinding during an emergency is never easy. People are bound to panic, so there’s no point in having a fire escape if it’s not easy to navigate. Which brings us to the most important point about fire drills. Fire drills must be conducted regularly so that people are aware of what to do and how to find their way out in case of an emergency evacuation. Although this may seem routine and mundane, it can save lives in times of crisis and should never be overlooked.
This part of the strategy covers what to do while waiting for the authorities to arrive. The idea is to contain the fire and keep it from spreading and ultimately bursting into flames. This can be achieved with fire suppression systems, which will also be integrated into addressable alarm panel.
#5. Fire Suppression:
While the main task of vanquishing the fire is left with the authorities, but there’s a lot of damage which can be contained till they arrive. There are different kinds of fire retardants depending on the nature of the fire. There are firefighting foams that are released in case of electrical fires, and automated sprinklers in case of wood fires. You may have kept fire extinguishers in your office or maybe doctor’s clinic, but do your employees know how to use one? Again, this comes under training and fire drills. If people are aware of how to operate these devices, fires can be easily contained.
According to official figures reported by the ADSI (Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India), in 2015 alone, a lack of preparedness resulted in the death of 17,700 Indians in accidental fires, the average of which is 48 deaths daily. All of these are highly avoidable. The numbers are grim. We need to start taking fire safety seriously and integrate it into a strategy so that is addressed in detail.