A staggering 23,942 incidents of fire and 57,192 other rescue calls from across the city over the past five years kept the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) on its toes. Moreover, the increasing vertical development of the city, slum pockets getting denser by the day, cramped market places, and a perennially choked road network has hampered effective firefighting. And there is a similar story in almost every city in the country. In India, for a vast majority fire safety and security is not the main priority.
This includes minimising ignition sources, as well as educating the occupants and operators concerning operation and maintenance of fire-related systems for correct function, and emergency procedures including notification for fire service response and emergency evacuation. Passive fire-safety features of a building include escape routes, fire lifts, fire-exits, refuge area and space around the building. Active firefighting features of a building include smoke detectors, alarms, riser systems, sprinkler system, functional hose-reels and a water tank.
Most fires can be prevented from escalating to major fires if internal fire safety systems are in place. While in most cases, adequate fire-safety installations are not in place, in other cases they are not maintained.
Passive fire protection (PFP)
Prevents or slows the spread of fire from the room of fire origin to other spaces, limiting damage and providing more time to the occupants for emergency evacuation or to reach an area of refuge. PFP is a range of measures designed to prevent, contain or slow the spread of fire from the area of origin to other areas. It compartmentalises an area to prevent and slow the spread of fire, minimise damage and give occupants more time to evacuate.
PFP is one of the three key components of structural fire protection in area. The other two components are active fire protection and education. Most people are familiar with the basics of fire suppression (sprinklers, fire extinguishers, etc.), but PFP that actually contains a fire at its point of origin can be invisible and nearly forgotten - until the day you come to truly appreciate and depend on it. PFP, such as fire stops, fire walls, fire retardant coatings contrary to active fire protection measures, do not typically require electric or electronic activation or a degree of motion.
There are four major PFP methods available.
Cavity Barriers: designed to prevent the spread of smoke and fire through walls, floors and cavities in building. This is done by installing a range of passive fire protection products that offer resistance to the movement of smoke and fire inside spaces.
Boarding Systems: involves encasing structural steelwork in rigid and semi-rigid boards to protect the structural integrity of steel work on the event of a fire.
Fire Resistant Glass: uses intumescent technology that in experiencing a temperature increase becomes viscous and forms a dense, heat insulating material that halts the spread of fire and chance of window blow-outs.
Flame Retardant Coatings: there are two types of fire retardant coatings -- vermiculite and intumescent fire protection. In vermiculite coatings, the structural steel members are covered with vermiculite materials, mostly a very thick layer. This is a cheaper option as compared to an intumescent one, but is very crude and aesthetically unpleasant. Moreover if the environment is corrosive in nature, then the vermiculite option is not advisable, as there is the possibility of water seeping into it (because of the porous nature of vermiculite), and there it is difficult to monitor for corrosion. Intumescent fireproofing is a layer of paint which is applied along with the coating system on the structural steel members. The thickness of this intumescent coating is dependent on the steel section used. Because of the relatively low thickness, it has a nice finish, is anti-corrosive nature and are preferred for aesthetics and performance.
Based on compartmentation of fire and preventing collapse through structural fire resistance, when properly installed and maintained, the building's passive fire protection can save lives and assets, and the building itself.
Interior finish is the material that forms the exposed interior surface of walls, ceilings and floor.There are many types of interior finish materials such as plaster, gypsum, wood and plastics.
They serve several functions.
Some functions of the interior material are acoustical and insulation, as well as protective against wear and abrasion.It can affect the rate of fire build-up to flashover conditions, contribute to fire extension by flame spread, increase the heat release by adding fuel and produce smoke and toxic gases.
Materials that exhibit high rates of flame spread, contribute fuel to a fire or produce hazardous quantities of smoke and toxic gases would be undesirable.
It is generally observed that the causalities/ injuries during any fire accident are due to inhalation of Toxic gases/ fumes, suffocation, panic and stampede. Therefore selection of Eco-friendly Fire Retardant coatings becomes more relevant. Since almost anything will burn, the objective of a flame retardant is to increase the resistance of a product to ignition and reduce flame spread. This prevents a small fire from becoming a major catastrophe.
National Building Code
The National Building Code of India (NBC), a comprehensive building Code, is a national instrument providing guidelines for regulating the building construction activities across the country. It serves as a model code for adoption by all agencies involved in building construction The code specifies the demonstration of fire zones, types of building construction according to fire resistance of the structural and non structural components and requirements necessary to minimize danger to life from fire, smoke fumes or panic before the building can be evacuated. Absolute safety from fire is not attainable in practice. The codes specify measures that will provide that degree of safety from fire that can be reasonably achieved.
A part of the revised code does cover aspects pertaining to design and construction of buildings on passive fire protection measures, also describing the various types of building materials and their fire rating. The requirements of this code are therefore taken as a guide and an engineering design approach should be adopted.