Why building designs must include effective disaster-management systems

11 December 2019 | Web Article Number: ME201917386

Disaster Management
Fire Protection
Occupational Health

EVEN a minor design flaw in a building could potentially place people, equipment, and property at risk of death and destruction.

That’s the warning from ASP Fire CEO Michael van Niekerk, who added that this was why all buildings in South Africa need to comply with the requirements of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, 1977 (Act No. 103 of 1977), Fire Protection, as set out in SANS 10400 Part T: 2011.

“This is to ensure that all building designs incorporate effective disaster-management systems to allow for safe escape and the control of fire and smoke.”

Van Niekerk said effective fire-safety solutions take into account the dimensions and construction of the building, the materials used, and the occupancy and storage of items. These all fall within the prescriptive requirements set out in SANS 10400-T.

“Any digression from the prescriptive requirements requires a rational design to be completed in accordance with the fire engineering methodology framework requirements of BS 7974. The Application of Fire Safety Engineering Principles to the Design of Buildings, supported by the published documents, form an integral part of the BS 7974 framework.”

In the event of a major fire that results in significant damage, injuries and death of occupants, the fire engineer will be held liable, he cautioned.

“Rational design takes into account the behaviour of a building during a fire, meaning the structure must be designed accordingly, thereby minimising any potentially devastating impact.”

He said that upon the completion of the fire-risk assessment and drafting the rational design report, his company provides a detailed and documented objective fire-risk assessment, as well as fire-engineering calculations and analysis where required, covering all aspects of fire risk and safety.

“As part of its value-added service, ASP Fire also works closely with insurance brokers and underwriters to address a client’s fire risk based on the outcomes of the fire-safety risk assessment report. This assists in preventing damage to property and products, loss of life, financial loss, consequential loss of profit, loss of productivity, and insurance repercussions.”

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