Webinar on “How to use Air-Conditioners in COVID – 19 Times”

Indian Buildings Congress on 30th July 2020 at 4.00pm Organized a webinar on “FIRE SAFETY IN HIGH RISE BUILDINGS”. Shri Pradeep Mittal, President , IBC in his introductory speech welcomed Shri O.P.Goel, founder President, IBC; Shri Atul Garg, Director, DFS, Shri Sanjay Kumar Tomar, Divisonal Officer, Fire Prevention Wing, Delhi Fire Service;  Shri H.P.Gupta, Honorary Secretary, IBC; all viewers and audiences who joined the webinar. The President, briefed about the vision and role of IBC in promotion of Built environment. He underlined the necessity and importance of high rise buildings in the present day scenario for ensuring safety of the buildings and the occupants in case of any fire takes place.

The President, IBC in his address informed that in high rise building construction, fire safety is a fundamental aspect to be kept in view.

Fire safety should be as much a part of high-rise building occupants as a panoramic view. As one of nature’s most destructive forces, accidental fires can be unforgiving. They can erupt in all conditions, at any time, and without notice. Despite best efforts by regulatory agencies to prevent fires from occurring, fires do take place. Some Buildings have smoke alarms and others have security systems, but these devices alone do not provide complete fire safety. High-rise Buildings of all types including apartment/tenants should develop and practice a fire escape plan.

In India and many other countries in the subcontinent, awareness relating to regulations governing the use and storage of flammable materials, fire suppression requirements, exit routes and adherence to the proper guidelines that can help minimize loss of life from fire is severely lacking.

Much work needs to be done to bring awareness to the best practices to be followed in case of a fire emergency for the safe evacuation of occupants. In the event of a fire emergency, the most important requirements are to evacuate the occupants to safety, controlling the spread of fire, and extinguishing fire. Regular fire drills need to be carried out in the buildings for educating the occupants how to use the evacuation plan.

Besides conventional evacuation routes in the form of fire staircase which lacks proper care taking and are found in a unusable condition at the crucial time of fire, strategy to create alternate evacuation routes like  foldable light weight frame or chutes connecting each unit in building can be thought of which can be made operational in case of fire. Further the reduced response time upto 10 minutes from the fire fighting and evacuation team will also go a long way in reducing the causalities in case of fire

Shri O.P.Goel, founder President, IBC and former DG(W), CPWD, in his address briefed about the journey of IBC since inception. He lauded the role of IBC in its contribution towards promotion of built environment which is sustainable, less costly, affordable, energy efficient. He further informed that fire safety in high rise buildings is utmost important aspect to be taken care for safety of the occupants.

Shri Atul Garg, Director, DFS  while delivering his speech informed that he was happy and honoured to share his experience on the topic. He mentioned that It was a matter of pride for him to deliver lecture in the congregation consisting of professionals involved in different field of built environment.

He informed that by ensuring fire safety in high rise buildings one can ensure better conservation of the natural built environment. There are many active and passive systems of fire safety measures in high rise buildings from use of normal fire retarding materials/ finishes,  fire extinguishers to water  rising mains, automatic water sprinkler system, fire hydrants,  water hose pipes/ hose reels, fire and smoke detection and alarm systems and other security systems.  etc. but these devices alone do not provide complete fire safety.

There is a need to  bring awareness of the best practices to be followed in case of a fire emergency for the safe evacuation of occupants and much work needs to be done to bring awareness in this regard.

Besides the fire safety systems, one need to be fire smart in high rise buildings and High-rise building dwellers should develop and practice a fire escape plan. The plan should include a sketch of the building on each floor showing all windows, doors, stairwells and any other alternate means of escape. The escape routes should be clearly marked in red on the sketch.

Fire drills should be held  at regular intervals so that each high rise building dweller knows the location of all exit stairwells, fire escape routes and how to get to them as quickly as possible. Special provisions should be made for the elderly and the very young, by assigning another member of the family to help them escape safely.

He gave following additional fire safety tips for high-rise apartment dwellers:

  • If a fire occurs, do not panic. Staying calm will increase chances of survival.
  • Remember that smoke rises. It also kills.
  • Even if you can tolerate the smoke while standing, it is safer to crawl to the door.
  • Do not open the door until you have checked to be sure there isn’t fire on the other side. Feel the door knob. If it is hot, the fire may be just outside your door.
  • Brace your shoulder or foot against the door and open with extreme caution. Should you be confronted with a high concentration of super-heated air or smoke, close the door immediately.
  • If the hall is passable, use one of your pre-designated escape routes.
  • Do not waste time gathering personal belongings, but shut the door and take your key.
  • Do not use the elevator. It may stall due to heat or loss of power.
  • If you must use an inside stairwell, check for smoke before entering the stairwell.
  • If the stairwell is safe to enter, walk downward, do not run. Hold onto wall or handrail to prevent falling.
  • If your escape route is blocked, it may be safer to return to your apartment.
  • If you must return to your apartment or remain in your apartment because escape routes are blocked, open a window slightly to let smoke escape. Do not break the windowbecause you may need to close it if there is smoke on the outside.
  • Do not jump. You may not survive the fall.
  • If you must remain in the apartment, close all vents and air ducts. Wet towels and sheets and stuff them around the doors.

The best thing an alert apartment dweller can do is to practice safety at all times.  Never block windows or doors with heavy furniture; eliminate potential fire hazards by not allowing trash to accumulate in the apartment or around the building; keep kitchen air ducts free of grease; don’t store flammable materials in the apartment.

Dr. Sanjay Kumar Tomar, DFO DFS in his speech informed various types of fire safety systems.  He informed that active fire-protection systems include automatic fire detection and fire suppression systems. For extinguishing fire and protecting both the building and neighbouring structures, an effective fire-fighting system is essential. This includes accessible fire access routes, operational fire hydrants, and standpipe systems. Loss of life can be minimized when both active and passive life safety systems are working coherently.

An automatic sprinkler system designed, installed, tested, and maintained as per relevant codes is an active and effective fire-protection and life safety system. In addition to providing substantial property protection, a functioning sprinkler system allows additional time to the occupants for safe evacuation.

To make all of the fire protection and fire suppression systems work effectively, coordination between local governments, local municipalities, professional designers, owners, and builders is essential. In building fires are mostly accidental. They are usually caused by human error; faulty electrical components, general negligence and improper maintenance.

Shri H.P.Gupta, Honorary Secretary, IBC presented the vote of thanks. He thanked all the speakers for their very useful and informative speech. He thanked all the viewers for sparing their valuable time to make the webinar successful. He thanked the President IBC for having organised the webinar. He also thanked the Secretariat staff of IBC for their active co-operation in making the webinar successful and meaningful.