1 Fire SafetyThroughout the lifetime of a building, managing fire safety is a continuous process that starts with its initial design which aims to ensure that fire incidents are minimized, and even if a fire does occur, the fire safety systems, that include active, passive, and procedural systems, are in the right condition and fully operational. Thus fire safety management is an essential part of measures used to avert disasters in the event of fire eventualities. Although the present legislation for buildings ensures that there will never be life threatening fires, it is imperative that fire safety procedures be adopted for every building.
Fire management techniques aim at accelerating rescue procedures amongst occupants of buildings in the event of a fire so as to minimize the threat. It is believed that the design and regulated engineering in buildings can be effective for fire safety only if the building can be managed and tested by trained staff for the entire life of the building, which is a key criteria for fire safety. If the management of the building is effective, the occupants of a building in the case of a fire can be protected and saved from other losses also. In this context it is essential to carry out a fire risk assessment of the building in question so as to help in identifying all fire hazards and risks to the premises.
Only a fire trained professional who has good experience and knowledge of fire safety should do the risk assessment, which involves identifying fire hazards in the building, and the number of people that may be exposed to such risks. The risks are evaluated, reviewed and finally a strategy is made for the building to be safe from fire hazards.
All sources of ignition, fuel and inflammable substances are identified, and if they are in close proximity, preventive measures have to be taken. During a fire the greatest danger is from heat and smoke in the premises and when this happens occupants can be incapacitated while escaping, hence assessment has to be made in regard to the likely speed of spread of fire along with the associated heat and smoke, as also the number of people in the building at such times.
There has to be a system that warns people of fire immediately, and ways and means to escape during fire have to be devised by the fire risk assessment team. Additionally the 2 effect of other hazardous materials in the building has to be ascertained so as to reduce the possibility of ignition and minimize the fuel present in the building. Fire safety management systems and means of escape have to be provided for, along with adequate staff training, fire warning systems and other means of fire fighting equipment.
Fire risk assessment also requires to ensure that a proper license under the enactments is in force and that all fire regulations are complied with for the building. The workplace has to be examined from the point of view of people at risk and about the adequacy of available control measures during work hours. The floor plan of the building has to be included in the fire risk assessment to record fire hazards and control measures on different floors of the building.
It is very important that since fire risk assessment is a continuous process, it must be constantly monitored on a regular basis. Any changes or introduction of new control measures must be incorporated within the action plan for the fire safety measures.