Fire Safety: Are commercial and residential spaces in India safe enough? | The Financial Express

Fire Safety: Are commercial and residential spaces in India safe enough?

Both commercial and residential buildings, especially old ones built without fire safety norms, are at the risk of having a fire incident without warning.

Fire Safety: Are commercial and residential spaces in India safe enough?
There is a pressing need for organizations to determine if they are fire-safe. (Image – Pixabay)

Fire hazards in India have been a common cause of accidents in both residential and commercial sectors. The damages caused by fire accidents have long-standing consequences not only in personal assets but their loved ones and their own lives at times. As a country, India has been witness to fire hazards of various magnitudes.

Most of these fire incidents are caused due to lack of Safety equipment and training to arrest the Fire in time. In 2021, India sadly recorded 1.6 million fire accidents, with 27,027 innocent lives lost.

Indian commercial and residential spaces are subjected to several fire hazards and incidents due to a lack of awareness, building layout, and the right instruments. Though it remains one of the most preventable mishaps Fire results in the loss of life and property. While the decline in fire-related fatalities and injuries is promising, the significantly higher proportion of deaths relative to injuries is concerning. This could indicate the severity & nature of the fire accidents resulting in higher mortality.

Both commercial and residential buildings, especially old ones built without fire safety norms, are at the risk of having a fire incident without warning. Most of these properties are in close-knit spaces without proper fire exits or ventilation. Many commercial outlets such as restaurants, clubs, cafes and other recreational places share common electrical supplies causing massive fire which begins as one small flash which acts as the origin which turns into a massive blazing ball of Fire.

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Besides lack of awareness, it is a common belief that “It won’t happen to me,” which results in a highly casual and negligent behaviour when it comes to Fire Safety finally leading to the lackadaisical attitude towards the adoption of solutions.

Yet another reason is the lack of knowledge about the solutions available and the feasibility for both consumers and designers, whilst they are looking at the interior designs and structure of the Living Spaces.

There needs to be a systematic change in how we design spaces of future, keeping in mind our preparedness to face fire accidents. It becomes imperative to educate the people and authorities to make fire safety a priority in existing premises as well as new construction. There is a need to collaborate with decision-makers like architects, interior designers, fire authorities and real estate players. Architects, contractors and designers play a vital role in the building of new spaces. Homeowners must be aware of the possibilities of retrofitting fire safety solutions in the home without affecting the design and aesthetic appeal. This helps to avoid fire hazards and prepares homeowners for any adversity. Whereas, in the commercial space lack of standard solution protocol is one of the reasons fire safety is not prioritized.

There is a pressing need for organizations to determine if they are fire-safe. It’s critical to make systemic changes in the way we develop spaces that promote a fire-safe ecology at the top management level. It is critical to undertake periodical assessments at the deployment level to verify that the premises are fire-safe.

The high rise in the number of Fire incidents only goes to show that majority of the Infrastructure across our nation, especially the densely populated Metros, is vulnerable to Fire.

In addition, it’s essential to regularly talk about fire safety with children so they are ready in case of a fire. It is imperative to inculcate the habit of fire safety within them at a young age. Children must also acquire knowledge and be prepared for such circumstances. By working together, childcare professionals, educators, and parents ought to teach kids of all ages about fire safety. The first step in teaching kids about critical fire safety concepts will help them to understand the implications of fire. Films, images, and online courses can all be used to assist children in understanding the fundamentals of fire and the situations that can result in one. To avoid frightening the kids, make sure to address the topic delicately.

As a pioneer and leader in the security industry, we have collaborated with the Fire & Security Association of India to develop a customized fire safety assessment Tool, which will help identify gaps, if any, within their facilities and sensitize them such that they act proactively and make themselves fire-safe.

Routine Fire Audits and Drills are important for residential communities, particularly high-rise towers, which are at a larger risk of fire. Moreover, adoption of the right solutions will aid them to secure their lives as well as assets, rather than rushing to protect their valuables during a fire incident and in the bargain putting themselves at high risk.

There are many challenges to combating fire accidents, but awareness and proactive actions by incorporating the right solutions will help build a safer country. As a nation, we have to cultivate a non- tolerant culture and a holistic lifestyle which values Life and does not compromise on Safety and Security within our communities.

Let’s Build a Fire-Safe Nation.

(By Pushkar Gokhale, Business Head, Godrej Security Solutions)

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First published on: 20-08-2022 at 11:22 IST