The recent incidents of fire in high rises in the city have brought to light the fact that many of these buildings do not follow the fire safety norms rigidly and have not used fire resistant building materials at the time of construction.
The 2 unfortunate incidents which took place in the city last week suggest a lot of laxity including inflammable materials stored in the buildings, narrow passages blocking the exit, loose electrical wires, absence of fire extinguishers and no emergency preparedness. As per the National Building Code (NBC) these are mandatory for a building.
“Fire is something which can be easily prevented with safety norms in place. It’s rare to see such hazards in the developments that have come in the last couple of decades. There are plenty of fire resistant and preventable materials available apart from easily enforceable regulations and norms. The knowledge is universally shared and in fact CREDAI enables members to get the latest in the space of materials that can help members utilize for better results,” explains Suresh Hari, Chairman, CREDAI Bengaluru.
Be it a residential or commercial high rise, builders must make sure that safety norms and preparedness pertaining to any emergency must be in place. “The safety of a building, be it during its construction phase or when it is occupied, is critical for everyone involved in the process – from architects and end users to product manufacturers and contractors. Due to disastrous consequences of fire within or around a residential or commercial building, fire safety is being reviewed under more stringent norms and rightly so. Fire safety is of utmost importance when considering building materials – be it internal walls and external cladding or façade material.When a building material is exposed to fire, under certain conditions, its behavior against fire by breaking down determines the reaction of that material to fire,” says MonnandaAppaiah, Managing Director, Wienerberger India, leading manufacturer of clay building materials solutions for walls, roofs, and façades.
“Material used for cladding in buildings should not be selected in isolation and due care should also be shown to design the complete system fire-resistant rather than just assembling a set of ‘fire-rated’ materials,” agrees Dr Prashanth Reddy, Managing Director, Fundermax India, leader in architectural products for interior & exterior applications.
“As National Building Code (NBC) stipulates the flame spread index (FSI) on the surface of the cladding material has to be considered. Windows and glazing junction areas are vulnerable areas from which fire can spread into the building. Covering the windows and cladding junction by fire seal reduces the scope of fire spread on the façade or into the building.Cladding design intent should be to prevent the fire spread in the building,” adds Dr Reddy.
“In order to comply with EN 13501:1, many building materials are subjected to tests including “non-combustibility test”, “heat of combustion test” and “single- burning item test”,” explains Appaiah.
Also, once the building is occupied, Fire Safety Audit (FSA) must be conducted periodically to see if the building is following fire-safety standards. Fire service department officials should also make surprise visits to commercial and residential complexes and take action against those erring. There are standard certifications which need regular renewal and also are subject to inspection by concerned authorities at regular intervals. Most importantly, training should be provided to RWAs and maintenance personnel of the building to deal with emergencies like fire.