There is a perception that modern buildings are much safer from the risk of fire than the buildings of the past due to various fire prevention equipments and safety norms being implemented in the construction of buildings. But the reality is different, as today’s buildings have more chance of spreading fire than the past due to increased usage of fenestration material in the various building applications that catch and spread fire rapidly like plastic and synthetic substance than natural material. Further to this, due to the urbanization and huge infrastructure development, buildings are situated so close which has increased the chances of spreading the fire to a larger area.
In recent times, we have witnessed scary and painful fire accidents resulted in loss of lives and property. These tragic accidents have triggered government and industry attention on how to improve existing fire safety measures. In India, we have National Building Code for fire and life safety. This covers the requirements for fire prevention and life safety in relation to fire protection of buildings. The Code specifies construction, occupancy and protection features that are necessary to minimise danger to life and property from fire.
At the same time, we need to understand that forming by-law by the government alone cannot fulfill the objective of fire safety. These norms should be practiced strictly by the builders, architects and construction consultants while designing and constructing the buildings. We need to understand that there are many components/ articles in the building which are combustible in nature and spread fire rapidly like synthetic furniture/ furnishings, wood, etc. Fire safety statistics gathered in the past suggest that the bylaws were not strictly practiced while planning and constructing the buildings along with usage of material which is highly combustible and spread the fire rapidly.
Accidents may occur at any place but preventive measures on fenestration can be taken to minimise the damage. Fire protection planning is a systematic approach involving construction as per by-law and using fireproof/ retardant construction material. Nowadays, the industry as a whole is showing great sense of responsibility towards this danger. Modern buildings are constructed in such a way which can help in delaying the fire spreading to other areas of the building. Like compartmentalization of the building, usage of fire doors, fire resistant glazing and usage of windows made of uPVC.
Installing good quality uPVC windows and doors is one of various other ways of delaying the fire spread in buildings. Fire tests have shown that uPVC materials, being naturally flame retardant throughout their product life, will not cause, support or enhance the development of accidental fire. Unlike timber windows, the uPVC sections do not support combustion and are in fact self extinguishing. This quality prevents the promotion of fire spread.