The private sector also needs to step up and ensure that property developers and owners do their part to protect their buildings and tenants
Fire prevention and safety for high-rise buildings remains a top priority and a critical area of concern not just for property owners and developers, but also for the authorities and tenants as well.
The recent spate of high-rise building fires in the United Arab Emirates, especially during the summer months, (UAE) has sparked a renewed interest by all key stakeholders in an effort to put in place solid measures that will significantly enhance fire prevention and safety, particularly for high-rise buildings.
Even though the recent fire incidents have not resulted in fatalities, the tenants, owners and developers have encountered unimaginable losses as property worth hundreds of millions of dirhams has been destroyed.
Part of the reason why these fires have become prevalent is largely because of the construction materials used, most of which are not fire resistant.
To remedy the situation, the UAE authorities have set up strict national building codes that seek to address fire safety and risk to life as well as loss of property.
While these codes are welcome and timely, the private sector also needs to step up and ensure that property developers and owners do their part to protect their buildings and tenants at all cost.
In this article, we have highlighted five must-adopt fire prevention and safety measures for high-rise buildings.
1. Strictly follow the national building code:
This includes designating at least one elevator that has been specifically designed as a fire-lift for fire emergencies and evacuation. There should also be an emergency staircase as prescribed in the building code.
Adequate water supply and well-maintained and regularly-inspected internal fire hydrants must be installed in all high-rise buildings. External fire hydrants should also be strategically installed within the confines of the building and also be connected to the Municipal water mains.
2. Fire detection system:
Loss of life and property in the event of a fire can be prevented in good time if the building has a working and reliable fire detection system in place. This is a crucial preventative mechanism that should be incorporated in every high-rise development plan.
Summers are notorious in the region as most fires occur during this season. In the event of a blaze, the fire detection system will automatically trigger the fire alarm and the fire-suppressing hydrants and also alert the tenants immediately to enable them to evacuate safely.
3. Use of combustible building materials should be discouraged:
Thanks to technology advancements, most modern building supplies are manufactured with non-combustible material, which helps in making the structure fire resistant.
However, a handful of property developers still use large quantities of outdated building materials such as insulations and finishes that can easily catch fire.
Tighter regulation on the use of such dangerous materials should be enforced by both the authorities and property developers while the use of such materials like furnishings be reduced to a minimum.
4. Fire extinguisher and safety drills:
These are a must-have in every high-rise building. Property owners and developers should always ensure that the building is fully-equipped with modern, working and regularly-inspected fire extinguishers on every floor.
Their location should be strategic and properly marked. Tenants should also be shown how to operate the equipment.
Random fire drills should also be conducted with the help of the local police and fire fighting department. This exercise is to ensure that everyone is aware of what they need to do in the event of a fire.
5. Use of sealants:
Use of sealants and adhesives continue to be a big part of the construction industry across the globe. With most sealants in the market also offering quality in terms of strength, flexibility and elasticity, modern high-rise buildings developers should go a step further and adapt the use of sealants that also provide fire resistance.
Popular products such as the Dolphin Fire-Stop Acrylic/Silicone Sealant come highly recommended for their high-performance.
The Dolphin Fire -Stop Acrylic Sealant, for instance, is designed for internal perimeter pointing of fire rated door and window frames which can resist heat up to 250°C. It has good adhesion to a wide variety of substrates without the use of a primer.
The Dolphin Fire-Stop Silicone Sealant is a single component, neutral cure, gun-grade ﬁre stopping sealant. It is also capable of meeting the joint movement requirements in a ﬁre-rated joint.
It has also been tested for up to four hours ﬁre rating at independent laboratories and is approved for both through penetrations and joint applications.
These are just some of the highly-recommended fire prevention and safety measures that should be adopted for high-rise buildings. Fire safety is a crucial issue, especially in a region that is dotted with high-rise buildings with hundreds of tenants.
As much as fire safety is a collective responsibility, property developers, owners and managers should go the extra mile to ensure that high-rise buildings conform to measures and regulations that protect the building and its tenants from fire, especially during the summer seasons.