Sustainability has been a topic of discussion for innovators and designers seeking to conserve resources in the built environment for the past hundreds of years. As green technologies and materials become more affordable and accessible, market demand for sustainable infrastructure and alternative energy sources is also increasing.
According to a recent report by the National Crime Records Bureau, about 60 people die in fires every day in India. Every year, in India about 25,000 people die from fire and related causes. Women account for about 66% of those killed in fires. Fire accounts for about 6% of all deaths reported from natural and unnatural causes.
Fire Safety Hazards
Any action, material, or condition that could cause a fire to increase the scale or severity of the fire or that could cause the fire to start can be classified as a fire hazard. The hazard can be easily ignited by fuels or heat sources, such as faulty equipment. The danger can be actions such as using a blowtorch to defrost the pipe or an omission such as not cleaning the chimney of the wood chimney.
The fire safety hazards are basically divided into 2 broad categories as following:
- Building Materials
- Building System
So let’s talk about the things that come under building materials that can cause ultimate damage if not taken seriously:
- Glazing: The increase in glazing areas, such as lightings like skylights and lighting wells, can lead to danger for firefighters trying to access and navigate the building. The greater the number of glazing lights, the more likely it is for fire to break out.
- Insulation: New insulation methods help reduce energy costs by regulating the temperature of the building and reducing the amount of “leakage” in the building. Rigid Foam Insulation Spray Application Foam Insulation Structural Integrated Panel (SIP) Materials such as exterior insulation and finishing systems (EIFS), and foil insulation systems are useful for sustainability goals but can contribute to increased combustion and vapors. Airtight structures can cause abnormal conditions during fire events, including backflow. Insulated concrete foam is another example of a new method of insulation
- Furnishing: Some modern furniture products can contribute to the spread of fire and smoke production more than traditional furniture
This is equally important as the building materials hazards which are taken lightly by a major part of the population:
- Water Supply:Local jurisdictions or weather conditions may limit the availability of water and its discharge into public waterways. In the event of a fire, the building’s water demand may exceed the available supply. Designers should be sure to include water storage in their system design if the required supply cannot be met. Consideration should be given to water flow when testing sprinklers and contaminants in the water flow in the event of a fire.
- Ventilation: Natural ventilation is used to circulate air in the building without the use of mechanical equipment. While this reduces energy costs, it can also create an obstacle for firefighters when trying to control smoke movement.
Fire Mitigation Strategies
- These new technologies enhance the importance of fire sprinkler systems as a mitigation measure. An effective sprinkler system can prevent fire-causing lightweight building materials from being damaged or collapsed. Sprinklers can also contain fires, so firefighters do not need access to the rooftop area to perform ventilation. Sprinkler systems are very important in the event of a fire, providing time for residents to safely evacuate structures and avoid risks. These systems also seek the lives of the corresponding firefighters by mitigating the fire before it goes out of control and threatening the construction of vulnerable systems.
- New building materials and structural systems, such as lightweight structures and home trusses, can be damaged faster than conventional wooden members. Members of the fire department must be aware of these new types of construction and plan how to attack the fires of these structures. This ensures that the material is properly tested and reviewed.
The competent authority sometimes requires that the building be labeled if it consists of lightweight materials and trusses. These labels can increase suspicion of premature collapse in the fire condition of the firefighter in question.
Practicing fire safety sustainably
It can be said that fire safety is a sustainable approach. Reducing the number or severity of fires can reduce material waste, pollution and save money. When a fire occurs, building materials are damaged, property is lost, water is wasted, and pollutants are released into the environment through air and water. After a fire, the damaged materials will be transferred to the landfill and new materials will be introduced to replace them. The impact of a fire on the environment depends on the size and severity of the incident. When reviewing the concept of sustainability, the life cycle of the building should be considered.
An Important report by FM Global
They study the environmental impact of automatic sprinklers. The results compared fire test data from two large-scale fire tests, one of which was carried out in a room with automatic sprinklers and the other without automatic sprinklers.
A Drastic Change: The report noted that the use of sprinklers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 97.8% and limit the extent of damage to the original room. The unsprayed room flickered within 5 minutes, which meant the damage had spread outside the original room before the fire hit, causing additional damage. The amount of water used to extinguish a fire in a sprayed building is 50% less than that used to extinguish an unpainted fire. This research shows that sprinklers can help reduce the environmental impact of fires and help achieve sustainable development goals.
If we sum it all up, fire is not something an individual should take carelessly. Not only is it a threat to our costly materials but precious human lives and mother earth too. A little investment today can save you from tomorrow’s disaster. We personally feel that Fire Safety awareness should be every individual’s right. By implementing these little tasks we can save innocent lives and no. of unimaginable disasters.