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Fire & Life Safety In Warehouses

According to the NCB (National Crime Bureau ) there are on average more than 1,200 warehouse fires each year, resulting in more than Rs.1550 lakhs  in property damage.

When considering fire safety, protection and suppression systems for a warehouse, there are various requirements for each type and application.

The building, the products and the personnel are of the utmost importance. Standards, codes and policies help protect each of these assets.

Warehousing fire codes and policies are designed using the NBC policies and Uniform Building Codes along with local municipalities’ codes. First steps to consider in securing a responsibly designed fire safe building:

  • What is the space being used for? The National Building Code (NBC) classifies the building and functions which then governs the degree of fire protection required.
  • What is the maximum occupancy? The maximum occupancy recommendation can be calculated from the NBC maximum floor area allowances per occupant based on the building type.
  • How many exits are required? Most buildings require at least 2 exits, but the minimum of 2 doors applies to 500 occupants or less; an additional door is required for each subsequent increase of 500 occupants.

 

Within the building, considerations must be taken for the scenario of if a fire starts, how can it be controlled or suppressed?

  • What is on fire? The NBC has 4 classifications of fire by the type of material and how it should be extinguished.
  • What type of sprinkler system is required? Automatic sprinkler systems are required in nearly all commercial buildings. When talking about warehouse storage space, more sophisticated, in-rack systems may be required. The design is based on the fire class (what is burning), the storage height and spacing, and water pressure.
  • Early Suppression/ Fast Response (ESFR) sprinkler systems can replace in-rack sprinklers with their high output, high volume sprinkler heads, but need access to large volumes of water and may require a fire pump installation.

 

Further precautions to be considered:

  • Fire prevention education and training. All employees should be trained on proper procedures with equipment or machinery.  Employees must be trained and aware of the plan in case of an emergency.
  • No smoking. All facilities are encouraged to enforce a no smoking policy in and around the facility.

 

The NBC 2016  provides fire safety standards to protect the warehouse, product and personnel from fire related loss.

While the standards are voluntary, implementing and adhering to these life saving and ultimately cost-saving measures advocate the ethical responsibility of the company.

Hospital Fire & Life Safety

Fire Prevention & Life Safety measures are most essential, critical & integral part of a building envelope to envisage; to protect not only the life and property but also from the point of view of the business continuity of hospital building.

In case of Hospitals or Healthcare facilities there are comparatively more challenges for the obvious reason that the main load of the occupancy on such premises is expected to be the infirm, ambulatory persons; patients in the ICU, Operation Theatres, Recovery rooms, and wards.

In normal business or residential buildings, evacuation of the people may not be that tough as that of the Hospital buildings.

Generally, the following measures need to be considered:

1) The approach road to the Hospital building should be of not less than 18 meters in width.

2) There has to be sufficient open space around the building to handle any emergency.

3) The width of the Staircases / Passages should be 3m  as mandated by NBC ( National   Building code )

4)  Adequate  Number of staircases in proportion to the occupational load.

5) Horizontal evacuation plan i.e. Building can be parted in such a manner that if part A gets affected, occupants from part A can be shifted to part B. And therefore for such emergency shifting of patients, adequate space & facilities for patients & staff has to be planned with due diligence.

This virtual partition/will need to be of 120 minutes fire resistance and have fire doors with 2 hours of fire resistance.

The circulation of all utilities through passages/ ducts carrying gas, oxygen, electric wires, Internet, water, etc., should be properly sealed at every gap by passive fire protection material to restrict the spread of fire /hot gases or any product of combustion from one compartment to the other compartment.

With all the oxygen cylinders and electronic equipment, hospitals are always at a high-risk for fire accidents.

The Emergency Management Plan (EMP) should be kept current so that it stands the unexpected occurrence of a fire in a hospital. Here are a few fire safety measures of a hospital that are proven to be effective.

A Detailed Action Plan – The fire accidents leave no room for thinking.  A detailed action plan that has answers to all questions and needs , will save time for thinking and help one to react instantly in the proper and correct manner. Involve all the departments of the hospital in the preparation  of this action plan

 

Incident Command Structure – Communication has vital importance in reducing the damage caused by a fire accident. Establish a functional incident command structure that has groups and subgroups. These groups and subgroups should form a tree of communication and be ready to follow the instructions of the group leader.

Fire Safety Evacuation Aids –Hospital evacuation is a challenging task and the fire safety evacuation aids will help you in this regard. There are many types of evacuation aids available in today’s market. The hospital needs to be equipped with evacuation mats and sheet that can hold the patient firmly while shifting to a safer location.

The firefighting equipment that includes smoke detectors, fire alarms, emergency exit signals, sprinkler systems, fire extinguishers, and other firefighting equipment should always be checked regularly. A performance check should be conducted along with the fire drills to ensure a quick response in the face of any danger.

 

Mock Drills and Fire Safety Training –This aspect has vital importance in reducing the damage and saving lives during a fire accident. Ensure all staff members undergo the fire safety training programs and participate in the mock drills. This not only creates a responsive and reliable team in case of a fire but also establishes a safe and secure atmosphere that prevents fire accidents.

 

 

The Healthcare facilities’ Fire and Life Safety being a vast subject, in the interest of citizens to understand a bit of it and to provoke the building design and maintenance professionals to take a lead/cue from this Blog to ensure there is a cohesive approach and no compromise on the subject of safety be made.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Fires at the Workplace

The last thing anyone wants to deal with at a workplace is an accident, especially a fire.

Fires  represent a very serious  danger that can cause huge losses , destroy a business and potentially take human lives.

Prevention is absolutely critical when dealing with the issue of fire safety, and there are many different factors that can be implemented to lessen the risk.

There are  plenty of factors that can increase the chances of a fire breaking out.

Here , we outline the 4 most common causes of fire at the workplace, and what preventive action one  can take to minimise the risk of fire incidence.

  1. Faulty Electrical Equipment:

 

One of the most common causes of workplace fires is claimed as electrical faults.

They tend to be caused by defective wiring, overloaded sockets or plugs, and equipment that is old and malfunctioning, becoming overwhelmed and leading to heating of cables and equipments which further leads to smouldering and other combustible/ inflammatory material propagating the fire.

It’s important to note that it is legally applicable for a workplace to ensure that all equipment works and functions correctly, and this includes electrical machinery

Every year, it is mandatory that a Portable Appliance Test (PAT) be conducted on all electrical equipment at a workplace to ensure it functions properly and is not a safety hazard.

All items that pass the PAT test are labelled with a sticker outlining the date of test and pass.

Knowing all electrical equipment at work functions fully and is in correct working order is vitally important to fire prevention.

 

  1. Mess/ Disorder:

 

 

Clutter is a common issue in offices and if regular cleaning and maintenance is not carried out, it will eventually increase the odds associated with a fire breaking out.

The office is full with combustible materials and fire hazards.

Ranging from a simple built up dust, grease, and overloaded refuse areas, to built up dirt and poorly ventilated areas can cause machinery and equipment to become overwhelmed with heat which can lead to a fire.

A regular cleaning regime and ensuring work areas are at an optimal state is integral for reducing potential fire risks.

Actively encouraging employees to keep their working environments as clean and tidy as possible will help to mitigate the risk of a fire breaking out

  1. Combustible Materials

It goes without saying that if your workplace stores or uses flammable or combustible materials, that safety must be of prime importance for both employees and the management of those materials.

If a workplace is known to utilize combustible material then correct storage, disposal and handling processes must be highly regulated and safety must be considered paramount for all workers.

Proper education and training on handling combustible and flammable materials must be done regularly.

4. Human Error / Negligence

Another major reason for fires inside the workplace is basic human error.

This is typically because of incidents that were not intentional.

A number of things can happen in a variety of ways including cooking  food in a staff area, spilling flammable liquids, improper use of machinery or equipment that overheats, and simple carelessness

Smoking in non-smoking areas.

One method to prevent these types of incidents from escalating is to ensure there’s plenty of suitable fire extinguishers located around the work area.

It’s also important that all employees are properly trained on how to use fire extinguishers and to regularly address and assess any potential risks in the workplace that could happen due to human error.

Sadly, there are plenty of opportunities for fires to start at work due to negligence and lack of care.

In an attempt to get a task done quicker, short cuts have been known to be taken where certain workers have chosen to ignore correct procedures to get the job done faster, which could indirectly cause a major fire and health and safety risk.

Example being the blocking of ventilation areas, stacking paper or card in a flammable area, misusing or improperly storing flammable or combustible materials, or overusing equipment or using equipment improperly.

To help avoid these known issues, it’s important to train your employees appropriately.

Business owners should conduct reviews, drills, retraining, and assessments at regular intervals to ensure proper workmanship and reduce any risk of fires in the future.

 

Electrical Fires- Preventing a Home Electrical Fire

Electrical failure or malfunctions account for almost 34,000 home fires, on average, per year and result in roughly 440 deaths and Rs 100 crore in direct property damage according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This is a particular threat to homes built before the 1950s when electrical wiring standards were less stringent than today. However, even newer homes are at risk for an electrical fire. While older homes were built to handle 30 amps of power, most newer homes demand 100 to 200 amps.

In many homes. often as family increases,  one tends to add on electrical gadgets, like geysers, air conditioners, etc., without changing the power amperage and cables.

 

This demand places a significant strain on a home’s wiring and electrical system.

Understanding the common causes, warning signs and appropriate safety measures can help prevent an electrical fire in your home. The most common causes for electrical fires are:

  • Incorrectly installed wiring
  • Overloaded circuits and extension cords
  • Defective or improper plugs, switches and outlets
  • Misuse and poor maintenance of lighting

 

Warning Signs of Faulty Wiring or Electrical Systems

To prevent an electrical fire, one must learn to recognize the warning signs that indicate a possible wiring or electrical problem. Contact a licensed electrician immediately to examine and repair electrical problems if you experience any of the following issues in your home:

  • Flickering or dimming of lights
  • Switches or outlets that are hot to touch and/or emit a foul smell
  • Discolored cords, outlets and switch plates
  • Repeatedly blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers

 

The Dangers of Do it yourself

When a wire is punctured, but not completely severed, the electric current can move away from its path and result in an incredible amount of heat. This leaking of the current is called an arc fault. The heat from an arc fault can eventually cause a fire, which may quickly spread to surrounding wood and other combustibles, as well as other wiring. Take extra care when doing home renovations to ensure you do not damage any wires when hammering or drilling into walls.

You can help prevent an arc fault from causing a fire by installing an arc-fault circuit interrupter to your circuit breakers.  When arc fault circuit interrupters detect irregular current flow, they shut down the circuit to prevent overheating and combustion.

 

Cords, Outlets and Plug Safety

Electric currents carried by wiring, switches, plugs, and appliances generate heat.  Excessive or uncontrolled heat can start fires. To help prevent electrical fires, know how to use and store plugs and electrical cords and take these precautions:

  • Don’t run cords under carpeting, bedding, or other combustible materials; also avoid placing cords across doorways or frequently traveled areas
  • Discard frayed or broken cords and never splice two cords together.
  • Don’t overload outlets or use extension cords in place of outlets. Call an electrician to install additional outlets as necessary.
  • Ensure plugs fit snugly in outlets to prevent shock and excess heat.

 

Lighting Safety

Combustible materials such as drapery, bedding, and upholstered furniture may ignite when exposed to hot bulbs. Follow these safety tips to help prevent light bulbs from causing electrical fires:

Use the right light bulb wattage for all lamps and fixtures.

  • Position lamps away from open windows where strong breezes may blow curtains onto hot light bulbs. Lampshades can also prevent combustible materials from direct contact with a hot bulb.

Electrical fires are among the most dangerous forms of combustion due to how quickly they can spread and grow out of control. By following the information above, you can help reduce the chances of an electrical fire occurring in your home.

 

Fire Extinguishers – First Line Of Defense In Case Of Fire!

In our previous Blog we mentioned common causes of Fire incident at Home.

Here we discuss the first line of defense in case of a fire at home.

Fire Extinguishers

Having fire extinguishers in your home and knowing how to use them is a crucial part of your home’s emergency plan. While it can be tempting to use an extinguisher for any fire in your home, you have to be aware of the fact that they should really only be used for fires that are very small and contained — for example in a wastebasket or a small fire in a pot on the stovetop. The number one priority is still the safety of everyone in the home, so if a room begins to quickly fill with smoke, exit the house immediately and don’t try to be the hero.

 

You should have at least one fire extinguisher in every home. They should be placed in the room with the highest probability of a fire — the kitchen especially, and the garage as well.

While there are multiple classifications of extinguishers, the variety that are classified as “ABC” will be fine for the majority of homeowners’ needs.

While it’s true that using a fire extinguisher isn’t rocket science there are a few basics you need to be aware of – and probably aren’t.

According to FSIF (Fire Safe India Foundation ), the majority of Indians don’t know how to use an extinguisher, even if they have one in their home

This is a dangerous knowledge gap. Fires double in size every 60 seconds, so you don’t want to be fumbling around in an emergency situation, reading over the instruction manual as a small flame on the stove grows into an inferno:

  • First, determine if the fire is one you can handle with your extinguisher. If it’s taller than you, or the room is filled with smoke, get everyone out of the house.
  • Position yourself with your back to an escape, so you can make a quick getaway if necessary.Don’t back yourself into a corner with just an extinguisher in hand.
  • Pull the pin
  • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire. Hitting the tops of the flame with the extinguisher won’t be effective. You’ve got to smother the sucker at its base.
  • Squeeze the trigger. In a controlled manner, squeeze the trigger to release the agent.
  • Sweep from side to side. Sweep the nozzle from side to side until the fire is put out. Keep aiming at the base while you do so. Most extinguishers will give you about 10-20 seconds of discharge time.

Here is a link that will give you walk through : https://youtu.be/BLjoWjCrDqg

Common Causes of Fire at Home

Fires at home are generally due to electrical shortcircuit or smoking or overheating.

Faulty electrical appliances  can  result in a fire, so it’s important to check them regularly to make sure they are operating properly. Frayed or damaged cords should be unplugged and replaced immediately.

If you have kids at home, consider opting for tamper resistant electrical pugs and points, so that they don’t injure themselves or pose a risk when you are not directly supervising.

It is dangerous to constantly overload outlets with high-wattage devices, so it’s strongly recommended that you spread out your appliances.

As far as lighting goes, only use light bulbs that match the fixture’s recommended wattage.

Extension cords come in really handy when you need to plug in multiple devices in any given vicinity.

Just make sure that they are not tucked in under rugs, carpet, or other furniture.

Since they power so many things, it’s inevitable that extension cords get hot and when overheated, it could fray or wear out, resulting in a potential fire hazard.

If you experience problems with any outlet or wiring at home often, such as blown fuse, constant light flickering, or sparking, then you may want to contact an electrician and have him fix the problem.

Don’t postpone such issues , it’s always better to tackle these problems as they arise

Another really common cause of house fires is smoking accidents.

Smoking indoors is never a good idea.

Take the extra step and go out onto your balcony or backyard if you must smoke. When you are done smoking, make sure that the cigarette/bidi  is completely stubbed out in the ashtray or run under water.

Cooking

Cooking

Most house fires occur as a result from using cooking oils, fryers, microwaves, and unattended cooking.

To avoid potential hazards, never leave the kitchen unattended while cooking, especially when you are using high temperatures or cooking oil.

After you are done cooking, ensure that the stove and/or oven is completely turned off before leaving the kitchen.

Hot items should be kept away from loose clothing, dish towels, and other fabrics that could potentially cause a fire.

Conclusion

You might be thinking that these fire safety tips are common sense.

However, it’s easy to overlook them especially when busy and stressed about work, the holidays, and more. It’s not uncommon that people lose track of even the most basic precautions.

So whether you’re reading this piece to gain informational knowledge

or to get a very much needed reminder, know that you can never play it too safe when it comes to fire prevention at home.

Taking the necessary measures will not only save you and your loved ones but also your precious belongings.

THE 4 TYPES OF FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEMS

 

 

In our previous blog we had mentioned that Sprinkler systems  is the quickest response to Fire in any premise.

We reiterate that Fire protection is of the upmost importance in commercial & residential buildings in case of an emergency. One of the best preventative measures to take for the safety of employees, residents  and  property is the installation of Fire sprinkler systems.

There are Four main types of Fire sprinkler systems of which we should be aware of when choosing the right one for commercial /residential building

  1. Pre-Action Sprinklers – Pre-action fire sprinklers systems are filled with air when not in use and water flows through them when the smoke detector goes off. Two triggers are required to start the flow of water from them. Pre-action sprinklers are helpful, in that they can be set to prevent water from coming out of them should a mechanical failure or false alarm occur. The pre-action system is typically good for places where sprinklers are only necessary when an actual fire occurs, so that water damage is not as prevalent. These areas may include data centers, libraries, or other places with high-value items as also residential premises.
  2. Wet Pipe Sprinklers – As their name suggests, wet pipe sprinklers are constantly filled with water. This allows them to quickly react should a fire occur. They are also the most commonly installed type of sprinkler in buildings. A high rise or multi-storeyed building would be a typical property where these are installed. This type of fire sprinkler system is known for being typically low maintenance and cost efficient.
  3. Dry Pipe Sprinklers – Similar to pre-action     systems, dry pipe sprinklers use pressurized air (pneumatically charged )in the pipes, which exit before the water. This can cause a bit of a delay before water is discharged, but is a good choice for buildings in colder areas so the pipes do not freeze in winter causing the pipe to burst. These feature a fast opening tool that helps rid the pipe of air and increase  the water flow

In case of all above Sprinkler systems ,only one or a few sprinklers in the close vicinity of fire would  get actuated to douse the fire at its incipient stage.

Whereas in a Chemical fire ,inflammable vapours or gaseous atmosphere ,the spread of fire being very rapid ,the system requires to cover the complete area and therefore in case of a deluge system ,all the sprinklers would get simultaneously activated causing a deluge.

This is called Deluge system.

4.Deluge – Also similar to a pre-action system, the deluge sprinkler system requires a smoke or heat detector as well. This system features open nozzles that may be use when a fire occurs. Deluge systems are mainly good for buildings with hazardous chemicals or flammable liquids.

 

Sprinkler Systems: The Quickest Response in case of Fire.

In our previous Blog we mentioned Smoke & Heat detectors which caution us in case of Fire.

If you’ve read that article on smoke detectors, you’ll know there are some pretty clever ways of detecting fires by using electronic circuits to sense the smoke they give off; or heat and trigger the alarm as early warning.

So the alarm system is triggered , we exit the room / building , but should we allow the fire to continue and destroy our property

It makes sense to have a fire-fighting system that can react the moment trouble strikes, not just sounding an alarm but automatically putting out a fire as quickly as possible. That’s exactly what fire sprinklers (fire-suppression systems) do.

Sprinklers aren’t just for business buildings: they’re well worth having in homes. According to the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition of USA , a sprinkler adds about 1 percent to the cost of a building but (fitted alongside a smoke alarm) can reduce the risk of death in a home fire by 82 percent.

 

How to put out fires…..  Basic Principle

Remember the fire triangle: if you can remove either the heat, the air (oxygen), or the fuel, you can usually put out a fire.

You probably know that water is one of the best, all-round substances for tackling fires; that’s why firefighters use it, after all. Why is water so good? First, because it’s property to absorb heat ; it removes the heat from a fire—breaking what’s known as the fire triangle by taking away one of the three key ingredients (heat, oxygen, and fuel) that all fires need. (Water-based fire extinguishers work the same way)

 

Your automatic fire-fighting system is going to use water. How will it work? If you’ve seen firefighters tackling a blaze, you might have noticed them putting water up into the air so it falls as a spray over a wide area. Maybe what you need is something like an automatic fire hose attached to the ceiling of your building that could work the same way.

 

Unfortunately, what you don’t have at your disposal is lots of highly trained firefighters: you can’t have people sitting around all day and night on the off-chance that a fire might break out. So what you need is a fire-hose that switches on automatically when there’s a fire nearby—and, ideally, only in the immediate vicinity of the fire itself.

 

Right, so how will the sprinkler switch on automatically?

The fire sprinkler head opens when heat causes the red liquid-filled capsule to break. That opens a valve, allowing water to spurt through, bouncing off the flower-shaped deflector to

In reality, each sprinkler head has its own heat sensor (red capsule ) and each sprinkler will operate in its vicinity ,only when the temperature reaches between 155 and 165°F.

A fire in the garage for example, will activate only the sprinkler(s) in the garage.

(Types of Sprinklers will be discussed in our next Blog.).

Why are smoke alarms so vital?

The early warning that saves lives

Most fires at home start accidentally – and the effects can be devastating. A fire detection system (that’s smoke and heat alarms to most of us!) provides an early warning – and time to escape – that really does save lives.

Smoke alarm or heat alarm – what’s the difference? 

Smoke alarms detect smoke – fit them in all rooms where a fire might start. But in smoky or steamy rooms like your kitchen or bathroom, a heat alarm is more suitable. These alarms go off when the room reaches a certain temperature. They are just as easy to fit as

Smoke and fire alarm must-knows

  • Don’t just fit a smoke alarm in your hall and landing– also fit them in any room where a fire can start. For example, any room where you smoke ,have  lit diyas/ candles  or leave appliances plugged in.
  • Smoke alarms are not suitable for kitchens but heat alarms are. Fitting a heat alarm in your kitchen will give you warning of an increase in temperature caused by a fire but will not be set off by cooking fumes.
  • Some battery or mains alarms can be interlinked, so that when one alarm detects a fire they all go off together, giving you warning wherever you are in your home. This is particularly important where a person has any issues that may prevent or delay their escape to ensure they are alerted to a fire as soon as possible.
    • It’s also possible to fit extra automatic ‘fire suppression’ systems at home – that’s things like sprinklers. These are a great idea if there’s anything that might prevent you escaping quickly.

     

How to choose a smoke alarm

Setting up the right fire alarm system for you

A couple of  hours – and not much money – is all you need to get an appropriate fire detection system in place. It’s well worth spending the time, as an early warning really can save your life.

9 tips to get your fire alarm system sorted

  1. A single smoke alarm isn’t enough.
  2. Consider everyone’s needs – if there’s any reason there might be a delay in noticing or escaping from a fire, seek extra help.
  3. Fit smoke alarms on a ceiling (or high up on a wall, if the instructions state it is suitable for wall mounting).
  4. Make sure you fit an appropriate alarm in every room where there’s a fire risk.
  5. Follow the instructions that come with the alarm when it comes to installation– they all work in different ways.
  6. Screw don’t glue – if you use glue, it can seep into the alarm, and stop it working.
  7. Fit your smoke alarms away from kitchens or bathrooms as steam can damage the alarm, or set it off by mistake.
  8. Fit a heat alarm in the kitchen.
  9. Choose smoke alarms with a 10 year or long-lasting sealed battery.
Fire safety should be among your New Year’s resolutions

Fire safety should be among your New Year’s resolutions

It’s that time where many begin to think about what they might want to accomplish in the New Year. At this time of year popular resolutions include giving-up smoking, losing weight and getting more organised…

Considering that more than 75 percent of all fire deaths in the India happen in homes, Fire Safe India Foundation would like to urge everyone to include some safety resolutions to keep their 2019 a healthy and fire-safe year.

Follow these tips to ring in fire safety this New Year:

  • Make sure your home is protected by working smoke alarms. Half of all home fire deaths happen at night, when people are sleeping.
  • Test your smoke alarms once a month, and replace your smoke alarms when they’re 10 years old.
  • Cooking is the main cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Make safety your first ingredient; stay in the kitchen when you are cooking at high temperatures. Fires start when the heat gets too high. If you see any smoke or grease starts to boil, turn the burner off. Check your Gas connections regularly for any leakage.
  • Diyas/ Candles with care. Unattended candles/ diyas are an obvious fire danger. When you leave a room, blow out the candle/diya .
  • If you have children living in your home or visiting ,look for fire and burn dangers from their point of view. Never leave lighters or matches where children can reach them; instill in children never to hide when there is a fire.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets.

FIRE PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN FIRE FIGHTING