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Updated: February 18, 2011 16:59 IST

All antennas up against infernos

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Aim it right: A smoke detector and carbon dioxide flooding systems. Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup
The Hindu
Aim it right: A smoke detector and carbon dioxide flooding systems. Photo: S. Ramesh Kurup

Devices to detect fire and put out the blaze are essential

Ever thought what a fire can do to your home? The exquisite furniture, the expensive gadgets, the lovely accessories, in fact, everything painstakingly acquired over a lifetime will be reduced to ashes in no time, not to mention the mortal danger.

Living under the illusion that it is the job of the firemen to save you and your belongings can cost you dear. What if the fire tender is caught in a traffic maze? So the best thing to do is invest in a fire-safety system.

These devices are low on the priority list of even families which install advanced security equipment, such as closed-circuit surveillance systems and burglar alarms. But the complex wirings and proliferation of gadgets in most homes mean potential electric short circuits and chances of fire. The kitchen has always been a fire hazard — only the gas cylinders have multiplied it manifold.

Experts in the field say installing fire-safety devices is buying peace of mind. The money spent is worth the expense.

The devices, including smoke detectors, heat detectors and portable fire extinguishers for domestic use, are now available at reasonable rates from various suppliers in Kerala. Modern smoke detectors, such as the automatic microprocessor fire-alarm system, the intelligent analogue-addressable fire-alarm system and the integrated fire-detection and extinguishing system, are for domestic use.

Two models of heat- and smoke-detectors manufactured by the Taiwan-based Third Eye are now available at Rs.800. M. Rajesh, administration manager of Creative Security Systems in Kozhikode, says the company offers an advanced combo pack of various equipment with hi-tech remote-sensing facilities at Rs.15,000. A carbon dioxide flooding system has several advantages that no other extinguishing agent offers. It is fast in action and causes hardly any damage to sensitive objects. The 2-kg carbon dioxide flooding cylinders are portable and easy to use during a fire. Easy refill is another of their advantages.

Lack of awareness

P. Ajith Kumar, Assistant Station Officer at the Fire and Rescue Services unit in Kozhikode, say it is the lack of basic awareness that paves the way for most accidental fires. Even those who spend huge sums for constructing palatial houses are disinclined to spend even Rs.1,000 on a dry chemical fire extinguisher.

A dry extinguisher is used to spray powdered sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate on the blaze. It can be used on combustible solids, such as wood and paper, and combustible liquids, such as gasoline or oil and electrical fires. The product can even be kept in vehicles.

Mr. Ajith Kumar says the quality of wiring and electrical products matters a lot in strengthening security. “In several cases, we have found short circuits and gas leakage playing the villain. It is high time that our residents' associations and neighbourhood groups took the initiative for creating awareness among people,” he says.

At present, builders of flats and multi-storey commercial buildings only need to follow the instructions for obtaining no-objection certificates from the Fire and Rescue Services Department. For giving the certificate, the department strongly insists on warning systems on all floors, besides water-storage facilities and pumps to use in emergencies. Service providers say a builder has to invest at-least Rs.3-5 lakh for installing basic fire-fighting accessories.

“Installation of hi-tech facilities alone will not contribute to effective fire mitigation,” says Pearl J. Williams, branch manager of NIFE Fire Systems in Kozhikode. Accurate and timely service of the installed equipment should be done to ensure their faultless operation.

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