Issue 20: False Alarms
WHETHER DURING EXPLORATION or production, enhancing fire detection in oil & gas installations is critical to uninterrupted safe working, production, and protection of the environment. Safety design engineers and operators expect technology to increase not only the safety of a facility but to make it far easier to design, install and operate. This has lead to several new developments in fire detection equipment. Here Jonathan Gilbert examines the use of fire detection technology in the oil & gas industry. » Read more
Issue 20: Clean room protection
Heiko König, state-approved expert for the on-site inspection of fire protection systems, discusses the increasing importance of fire protection as part of the facilities management disciplines in chemical plants and laboratories. » Read more
Issue 20: Management Solutions
FIRE SAFETY AND asset protection are frequently closely aligned with security and in recent years industrial security management teams have two prime issues to consider: conventional precautions and measures in order to protect people from standard risks in hazardous environments and also protection from possible terrorist attacks which might hit their sites at anytime. Lars Waldow, computer software specialist, discusses the benefits of centralised security management systems. » Read more
Issue 20: Hazmat Incidents
INCREASINGLY FIREFIGHTERS FULFIL non-fire rescue and emergency roles and preparing to deal with Hazardous Materials (usually abbreviated to Hazmat) incidents has become a regular part of a fire crews emergency work. Neil Wallington, FME’s Consulting Editor reflects on this aspect of a firefighter’s role. » Read more
Issue 20: Flame & Flash Fire Protection
IAN HUTCHESON PROVIDES FME readers with a better understanding of fire and flash fire risks, as well as key regional safety standards and existing innovations in protective equipment on the market. » Read more
High Rise Guidance
The middle east has witnessed a proliferation of high-rise building developments in recent years and now has one of the largest densities of this type of structure anywhere in the world. Designed for a variety of domestic, retail and other commercial purposes, many of them combine a wide range of inhabitants and uses.
Most fire detection systems in this region adhere to the NFPA 72 National Fire Alarm Code, which covers the application, installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire alarm systems, fire warning equipment and emergency warning equipment and their components.
However, to create some specific guidance for the use of fire detection systems in high-rise buildings, in 2011 the UAE introduced its Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice, produced by the General Headquarters of the Civil Defence and Ministry of Interior.
Drawing from established sections of international codes and standards, including NFPA 72, it comprises 18 chapters and 724 pages, and details the location and selection criteria of fire protection systems in various occupancies. It aims to reduce loss of life and injury by addressing the most common fire and life safety issues by defining fire protection systems that are most critical.
Adherence to this Code of Practice is now mandatory on all new UAE building projects. It states that all high-rise buildings must install, operate and maintain an appropriate voice based evacuation system and Chapter 7 - Emergency Voice Evacuation and Communication System covers this topic in considerable depth.
However, it isn’t only high rise buildings where this type of fire safety system is a must – structures with a gross floor area greater than 2,800m2, or which have an occupant load exceeding 1,000 persons living or working in them are also included, as are warehouse or distribution facilities with a gross floor area of 5,000m2 or more.
As with any proposed life safety equipment installation, it is first of all necessary to carry out a full risk assessment in order to decipher the correct system to use. This process should be performed using various hazard assessment methods prescribed and should consider all special dangers indicated to determine appropriate protection. Once the risk assessment has been completed the installer should adhere to relevant guidance and standards pertaining to the fire detection system’s design, installation and commissioning.
Within high-rise buildings, ensuring that a voice evacuation system is fit for purpose and commissioned so that in the event of a fire people are guided to safety in a structured manner is imperative. The latest state-of-the-art ‘intelligent’ voice evacuation systems incorporate a number of essential features that can prioritise which levels to evacuate first as part of a phased evacuation strategy – so avoiding a potentially catastrophic mass stampede.
This is particularly important in multi-use locations where floors can be used for different purposes. In a hotel, for instance, with residents from a wide variety of countries, it will be necessary to pre-configure the system so that evacuation instructions are communicated in different languages. Most modern networked systems are also equipped with a live speech capability, so that when necessary the pre-configured messages can be overridden and people spoken to directly.
Also, if a building has number of people who have impaired hearing, the voice-based system can be used in conjunction with flashing beacons to provide a visual indication that there is a fire alert. They should be combined with complementary notices that can help guide people to a designated evacuation path.
In an emergency situation time is very much of the essence, so notifying the emergency services quickly is crucial. In high rise buildings the voice evacuation system’s control panel must be connected to a third party alarm receiving centre (ARC) to provide automatic notification of life safety emergencies and ensure the fastest possible response.
The UAE’s Fire and Life Safety Code of Practice is now considered one of the world’s definitive documents on life safety provision in high-rise buildings. The country is leading the way in this area and the fact that it places such importance on the use of voice evacuation systems suggests that it won’t be long before other countries follow its lead.