A follower had asked us about ways of preventing fire in building from the design stage, and rightly so fire prevention in building should start from the paper works, up until the structure is completed; many builders today perhaps over-look or undermines the important choosing rather to fight an outbreak with fire extinguishers and water hydrants - this approach most times too costly.
- Employ Professionals - The first stage of every building are built is appointing persons to create the designs (Architectural, Structural, Landscape, Civil, Surveyors, Q.S etc). Often times especially on smaller projects (Residential or commercial) the project owners have opted for quarks, artisans or in-experienced undergraduate with vital construction responsibilities some of which includes circuit design and load, wrong specifications of materials, inadequate ventilation etc. These might fire back, it is therefore important to ensure professionals handle the design as this is the first step to preventing fire outbreak in a building.
- Use Quality Materials (wires etc) - The importance of using quality material cannot be over emphasized especially electrical cables. With so many cheap imported cables in the market, it is advisable to go for the highly (best) rated Nigerian cables, which as expected are more expensive but saves the day eventually. Quality material isn't limited to electrical wiring alone, appliances, sockets, switches should also be picked with care, same applies to other building component although the risk arising from low quality wiring is higher.
- Use Less Combustible Material - Always ensure less combustible materials are used in areas prone to fire outbreak, it would be wrong for example to use timber carcass in a Garri processing factory or in a modern bakery where there is baking at temperatures above or about 200 degrees. Should there be fire outbreak, timber roof (a highly combustible material) would help spread the fire at a rate greater by far compared to steel carcass which wouldn't - this explains why most factories, warehouses and shopping mall avoid use of ceiling preferring to rather expose their steel carcass finished off in fire resistant paints.
- Install Smoke Detectors - Smoke detectors if designed into the structure are a quick way to attack fire before an outbreak gets serious. As they say, there is no fire without smoke, it is therefore advisable to tackle the smoke before it turns to fire.
- Use appropriate rating - Using standard organization (SON) rated materials, and the right rating helps ensure a safe building. It is advisable and safer to install a 220 volts rated electronics than to install a 110 volts rated electronics with a step-down; a visitor who isn't aware of the need to connect to a step down can leave the appliances plugged directly to a 220 volts socket when there is no light, resulting in fire outbreak whenever PHCN restores light later.
- Containment - Certain fire prone area in the building should be constructed to contain fire within its space for hours from spreading to other areas, should there be an outbreak; e.g a meter room of an hotel can be constructed in concrete or double walls and fire rated doors to contain fire for as long as possible (most times 2-3 hours) while fire fighters are contacted or the fire hydrants are pulled out.
- Functionality - Yes, a functional design is a safe design, ensuring escape route, stairs and safe practices helps prevent or minimize fire outbreaks. The ease of access to and around the building is vital in preventing or fighting damages that might result from fire outbreak.
When dealing with fire outbreak, prevention is always better and that should starts from the first line drawn on paper.
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