Property Plus

Give high priority to fire safety

Adequate fire safety measures, will save precious lives.  

The New Year celebrations could have turned into a tragic ordeal, something on the lines of the Hollywood movie Towering Inferno, for the guests who were present in the 79-storied residential skyscraper in Dubai, which erupted into a fireball. However, the fire fighters and other safety features of the building succeeded in controlling and extinguishing the blaze with zero casualties.

Are such safety measures, which will save precious lives in situations like an inferno in high-rise buildings, present and followed by the builders in city? Are our high-rise buildings, especially that have come up in newly developed areas like Madhapur and Gachibowli, having such advanced fire-fighting technology?

As far as fire safety measures are concerned in Hyderabad and elsewhere in the country, it is anybody’s guess. There is a huge question mark over the preparedness of fire safety in high-rise residential and commercial complexes, when the ground floor is put into use because of its commercial rental value. In majority of such buildings, the power supply distribution and meter panels are located in the basement floors without knowing the consequences in case of flooding of the basement floor due to unprecedented heavy rains. In Hyderabad, the power supply distribution and meter panels are usually placed in the basement floor to put the ground floor to commercial use.

Fires in high-rise buildings with high death tolls in a number of countries have created a great anxiety among the fire protection specialists and general public. Sometimes these fire hazards bewilder the fire brigade and often they are helpless in the face of such fires and fail to save human lives.

On my visit to a high-rise building complex consisting of four blocks having 16 floors each and having about 400 deluxe apartments at Madhapur, I noticed all the electric distribution and meter panels of each block located in the basement used for car parking. It’s hard to imagine the plight of occupants of the high-rise blocks, in case there is heavy rain due to extreme weather events like the recent Chennai floods.

Fire safety is an important aspect requiring special attention while designing and constructing the high-rise buildings. Mostly fire hazards take place in high-rise buildings because of electricity and defective infrastructure. In New Delhi in 1983, an electric transformer placed in the basement floor caused fire at Gopal Towers, a high-rise building. The cause for the major fire in Uphaar Cinema Theatre, New Delhi in 1997 was due to fault in the electric sub-station located in the cellar.

The Government of Telangana should take advance steps to restrict the builders not to install the distribution and meter panels in the basement floors irrespective of number of floors. The ideal location would be at the load centre on the ground floor in a separate building. In case of low-lying areas, the floor level of such building should be above the highest flood level of the locality.

(The author is a senior architect and can be reached at: archineers212@yahoo.com)



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Printable version | Dec 2, 2020 12:44:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/homes-and-gardens/Give-high-priority-to-fire-safety/article13988514.ece

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