April 2017 Bulletin 217
Posted by Firepoint on 2017-04-13 09:23:25 EDT
Ensuring the Integrity of Fire Barriers and Successful Evacuations
Overall, fire and life safety planning is a critical component of any building. The planning approach for the most part hinges on the building’s classification, its characteristics and the fire protection systems and safety equipment which are currently installed. For all concrete or steel-reinforced structures, and regardless of the number of floors or occupant load, it is imperative to assess hazards in the building.
It is critical for a building operator or management team to develop a fire safety strategy in advance, so as to reduce the risks for occupants. Although a building may not have had extensive construction activities over the years, checking the designation of safe egress routes, along with the barriers to fire and smoke, will help maintain the level of fire safety within the building. This includes items such as the fire doors, their latching devices, swinging and sliding hardware, and closing devices. The approved fire safety plan does outline the maintenance checks and inspections which are to be performed to ensure the integrity of fire barriers within a building. It is equally important to ensure that fire doors are kept clear of materials on both sides. Fire doors which are infrequently used are often overlooked, and an accumulation of combustible materials may obstruct the escape route in the event of an emergency evacuation.
Although it is difficult to predict whether a building will ever have a serious or life-threatening fire, it is essential that fire safety procedures be established. The building code defines fire safety as the objective to reduce the probability that a person in or adjacent to a building will be exposed to an unacceptable fire hazard as a result of the design and construction of the building. In simpler terms, fire safety aims to minimize the potential for personal harm as a result of a fire in a building. The fire code outlines the building classifications which are required to have a valid fire safety plan in place. These customized manuals describe the required up-keep measures for the fire doors, as well as the evacuation procedures for occupants who may need assistance. The fire code states that each building safety plan must include a current list of occupants with hearing or vision impairment, or those who are wheelchair bound or have limited mobility.
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