Kerala

Fire load of buildings alarmingly high

The fire load of houses and commercial buildings in the State has increased many times in recent years, and fire safety has increasingly been compromised. Most fires being reported from the State throw light on how building owners compromise on fire safety by adopting newer ideas of beautification.

Fire safety officers in the State are sounding a warning against an increased craving for interior decoration and panelling among building owners. While beautifying the interiors, ventilations are invariably plugged. “This is a trend widely seen across the State. People are giving priority to beautification by heavily compromising on safety,” said Palakkad District Fire Officer Arun Bhaskar.

Mr. Bhaskar was quick to react on the reason for the fast spread of fire at Palakkad’s popular restaurant Noor Jehan Open Grill on Friday. His team found that it was the interior and exterior panelling of the restaurant that made the first floor of the three-storey building reduce to ashes in less than half-an-hour. “The case is almost similar in most modern business establishments and commercial buildings. They are using highly flammable light materials for ceiling and wall panelling, thus taking a huge risk on fire safety. None can vouch against a potential fire. But we should be vigilant and safety measures should be adopted,” he said.

Plywood and ACP

When plywood and other thin sheets used for interior work add fuel in case of a fire, the aluminium compound panels (ACP) widely used for external cladding or facades of buildings not only increase the blaze but also prevent the smoke from escaping.

“Various modern materials are being used for interior and external beautification. They not only put the building on added fire risk, but also cause to release extra-poisonous fumes in the event of a fire,” said Vadakkethil Moosa, Malappuram District Fire Officer. He said the fire load of houses and commercial buildings was growing higher in tune with people’s craze for decoration. “We often blindly adopt ideas from abroad without adopting the safety norms and measures implemented there,” he said.

Fire officers pointed out that houses too were being converted increasingly into closed spaces with more areas being airconditioned. Safety norms in smaller buildings were insufficient while those in larger buildings were often violated.

“The interior decoration and closing of ventilations often take place after we issue fire safety certifications. The local bodies have to play a proactive role to ensure fire safety,” said Mr. Bhaksar.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 6:08:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/fire-load-of-buildings-alarmingly-high/article33900855.ece

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