Monday, August 28, 2006

The fire fighting issue. (part 2)

Fire Protection in Building

For the purpose of visualizing the fire protection in building, imagine yourself in a building just caught on fire. As soon as fire is detected by the heat or the smoke detector, security personnel in the fire control room is alerted. Officer will first identify the source and location and attempt to extinguish the fire using the first aid – portable extinguishers or hose reel. When control was un-manned, the heat triggers the automatic sprinkler system or the CO2/Pyrogen system in electronically sensitive zones.

Occupants when alerted by the alarm run to the first safe zone, the corridor towards the second safe zone, the protected lobby. From the lobby, occupants moves to the escape staircase. Smoke is prevented from entering the lobby by the operation of pressurized air. In darkness, emergency lights and exit signs guide the occupants to the final discharge at the ground floor.

Firemen, alerted by phone or automatically through EMS, arrives at the scene, took over the fire control room, assess the fire, determine the fire fighting strategy and swings into action.

If you can visualize the scene, your basic knowledge of the UBBL would enable you to design a right protection system.

Fire protection in building deals with two aspects;

Passive Fire Defense; involving planning of escape routes, fire resistance structures, material selection and compartmentalization of areas into manageable fire risk sections.

Active Fire Defense; involving manual and mechanical fire containment and suppression systems such as fire alarms, heat and smoke detectors, hose reel, sprinklers, smoke spill etc.

What system to use?

To know what system to use, the architect must first identify the purpose group of the building by referring to the Fifth Schedule – (Designation of Purpose Group). Once that is done, the architect can determine the required system by referring to the Tenth Schedule – (Requirement for Fire Extinguishing System, Fire Alarm System and Emergency Lighting).

The other schedules are equally important but deal mostly with the passive planning issues.

Basic engineering knowledge.

It is important for architect to be well versed in the basic aspects of fire protection engineering, for several reasons

1. The system must be first approved on the architectural submission
2. M&E submission refers to the approved architectural plans
3. Determination and planning of mechanical spaces
4. Aesthetic of detailing.


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