Introduction to community safetyA community fire safety program is an agency-partnership whose domain includes homeowners, community leaders, architects and contactors. The goal is to protect the community property from fire related hazards, loss of life and possible disability and income. It safeguards natural resources from risks of fire and ensures community takes part in planning and designing sustainable safe and user-friendly emergency response to fire incidents. It’s a subset of individual responsibility in effecting fire safety precautions and degradation of natural resources. This is implemented through adopting SARA methodology. Background of the studyFire incidents in high-rise buildings are characterized by three challenges.
They present difficulties of evacuation of residents, have limited access to firefighters and are exposed to high ventilation that fan spread of fire. The challenge of extinguishing fire is dependent upon nature of construction of the building subject to fire resistivity or combustibility. Spread of fire vertically above the floor of origin and presence of falling debris of burning combustible materials produces hot gases and heat that can suffocate occupants and firefighters. Many high-rise buildings lack fire emergency plans that lead to high death rates when fire outbreak occurs predisposed by lack of compliance with fire safety order 2005.
Many buildings lack updated fire risk assessment reports hence there are no fire assessments in place to indicate occupants at risk and identify possible fire hazards. The residents lack information on fire safety and precautions. This is because appropriate measures to incorporate SARA methodology in incident management are not done. Statement of the problemFire incidents and frequency have in the past led into increase of insurance premiums due to increased risks of fire in high-rise buildings after appraisal.
Many high-rise buildings lack fire alarms, smoke detectors and water sprinkler systems. The buildings lack exterior stairways, ladders or elevators that can be used by people with limited mobility to exit the building. The buildings lack standpipes for delivering water and rescue air to upper floors. The roof of the buildings cannot allow access to residents hence occupants cannot be rescued aerially by helicopters. Occupants may have little knowledge about fire resistivity of the building and cannot determine when to exit the building when fire is reported on floors below them.
Many fire related deaths in high-rise buildings result from inhalation of hot fumes and smoke. The inhaled hot air cannot dissolve in the alveolus and rate of gaseous exchange is minimal. Other deaths, burns and injuries result from limited exit routes that are not well lit. Occupants stumble and fall and are stepped on by rushing residents. In other buildings, maintenance of automatic smoke detectors is not timely carried out hence residents are not timely warned when fire breaks out. In other cases, elevators may fail to function.
Lack of rails and absence of cranes make it difficult to evacuate residents through the windows when exit channels are shut and opening of doors is not a safe option to access exterior ladders. Lack of compartmentalization facilitates spread of fire and this is dependent on type of fire. Lack of informed choice of fire protection like unmaintained active fire protection on combustible building leads into high death toll because residents are not timely warned when fire breaks out. Active fire protection is an intensive maintenance method and fire outbreak can occur when fire alarms have weak batteries.
In many building, there are no fire emergency plans and even though they may be there, the occupants may not have knowledge of their use.