Feeling the heat

Companies and FMs need to implement an effective fire safety management plan, says Amal Tamim, business development manager of Bodycote Warrington Fire.

Over the last few years, we have all become more aware of the liability issues associated with any type of incident, especially fires.

Consultants, architects, project managers, contractors, subcontractors and fire protection suppliers and installers are now expected to meet local and international standards of practice and safety. In addition, recent fires in the Middle East reminded new and existing FMs they must have the correct fire safety emergency procedures and contingency plans in place.

As the Middle East is seeing more and more interest in designing large, complex and innovative structures, it is fair to say these facilities will be occupied by large numbers of people. Without the correct fire procedures in place, the chances of large-scale loss of life are increased.

It is important to involve fire engineers for input and advice in all aspects of the design to ensure humans and buildings are given a good degree of protection.

Fire engineering can be used to develop a balanced design and fire strategy. This is done by integrating computer modeling and passive and active fire protection systems while taking advantage of the latest technologies available to make the most cost-effective design.

With the input of fire protection engineers, special design allowances that would not have typically been allowed or made possible under the typical building and fire codes, are allowing the architects and building owners to achieve their visions.

Normally, the owners and developers would insist on all fire protection systems and products being properly designed, integrated, installed, inspected and maintained. In addition, the managers of these facilities will be familiar with the fire protection design features in these buildings and have them documented in their fire and emergency procedures planning manual.

Unfortunately, we find that complacency by the occupants or FMs in this area of the world is exacerbated if there is improper design of detection and alarm systems, causing multiple false alarms in a building.

Effectively, this will stop people reacting to the alarm. In the event of a fire or similar incident, the occupants, who may or may not be familiar with the building, will rely on the building staff to provide them with the necessary information. For example, what is happening? What should I do? The question you should ask yourself, is, are you ready when this happens?

Fire detection and alarm systems, emergency signs and way-finding systems are critical information systems that protect and guide building occupants during fire emergencies. It�s important for the FMs to inform the occupants if these systems.

Essential elements of a fire safety management plan:

1. Establishment of a fire prevention committee

- Identification of personnel, roles, functions, responsibilities

- Personnel in charge of the fire alarm and central control panels

- Day shift and night shift

- Training

2. Description of all fire safety equipment

- Fire alarm and detection/voice communication/sprinkler and standpipe/smoke control/smoke venting systems

- Elevators, functions, charge limits, recall and fire-fighters elevators

- Key site and building plans indicating: fire compartmentation, location of fire safety equipment, sprinklered and non-sprinklered areas, fire dept access, central control room and fire alarm panels

3. Documented procedures

- Evacuation procedures

- Refuge area

- Instructions in case of fire

- Procedure for people needing special assistance

- Evacuation drills

- Posting of procedures and evacuation plans on each floor

- Typical announcements

4. Logs and reports

- Incident reports

- Follow-up to incident reports

- Maintenance and inspection procedures of fire protection systems

- Maintenance and inspection schedules

- Fire protection system inspection reports

- Drill reports

- Emergency telephone list and procedure for each designated personnel

- List of people needing special assistance

5. Inspection/maintenance procedures for

- Fire alarm/voice communication/hose and standpipe/automatic sprinkler system

- Fire pump

- Hose stations and fire cabinets

- Portable extinguishers

- Generators

- Emergency lights and exit panels

- Elevators

- Smoke alarms

- Fire doors

- Fire and smoke dampers

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