In the current world fire outbreaks are very frequent and do affect humanity adversely. In buildings that have a lot of occupants, a fire outbreak can be very dangerous. Fire outbreaks in such buildings kill, destroy property and injure a lot of people. These hazards not only create harm but are costly.
Fire outbreaks especially in institutions are common which raze down residential and accommodation centers. Because of the effects of these fires legislative requirements have been triggered supporting various mitigation measures. The mitigation measures on the other hand are should be occupational health and safety acts compliant, they should also address effectively all measures necessary for hazard identification, show people at risk and propose measures for curbing the hazards. To do this a risk assessment report is necessary. Therefore this report will evaluate and make out probable fire hazards in an accommodation centre for students. This assessment report will analyze risks posed by the fire hazards, show people affected and finally give details on how to manage and reduce the severity of the hazards. This report will also give an insight on legislation requirements covering Fire & Rescue Service, Integrated Risk Management plan together with the compliance to the fire and rescue services act 2004.
Identification of hazards
In accommodation centers, students are noted to have a rather careless attitude towards fire safety. Students are generally not aware of the dangers a fire outbreak can cause and safety measures to be taken in the event of an outbreak. The students are again noted to lack basic fire combating skills. In this case, it was noted that occupants of this buildings use an assortment of electrical appliances, have lighters in their rooms, some smoke cigarettes and are generally careless in handling of electrical equipments and appliances. The mentioned factors are the major sources of fire ignition.
Fuels for the fires were noted to be in combustible substances found in the buildings, it was noted that these materials were not properly managed. The fuels included wooden stuff, cloths, beddings, waste handling and storage bins, highly combustible substances used and stored by the occupants (books for reading, all kinds of papers and spirits) and different body and beauty products.
“Fires are ignited in the presence of the source fuel sustaining the fire and oxygen” (Grayson, p. 24). This assessment found the source of oxygen in the accommodation centre to be coming from installed fans and air conditioning systems together with that in the air filtering into the room through ventilations and other openings (doors and windows). There was a minimal number of oxidizing agents found in the building and they did not pose potential risk as they were not a major supply of oxygen.
In and around these particular buildings there are different kinds of people, the main group though, is the students who spent most of their time there and also sleep in the buildings. They are the most affected group who are also responsible for starting the fires.
The second group which may also be adversely affected comprises of the buildings caretakers, security officials, maintenance workers who come to carry out maintenance and construction work and the fire men who are called upon to put out the fires.
The third group that may not be very much affected comprises of cleaners, routine management workers, visiting friends, relatives and other people who could be found near the accommodation centre. Therefore as shown by the assessment students are highly prone to the hazards, followed by fire men then the caretakers and security personnel. Maintenance crews, routine management personnel, cleaners, visitors and people found around the building are also prone but not on a high level as the first group. This is also the order of the level of risk exposure.
Here students are regarded to be the most affected because when a fire tragedy happens at night especially when people are asleep, response reaction is normally minimal making the individuals highly prone. Some of the students are noted to be associated with drinking and drugs making them more prone as a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs cannot respond effectively in the event of a fire. Fire men who come to extinguish the fire are also highly prone as they only come to the actual fire scene. The other people at risk depend on the time spent in the accommodation centre together with the activity they undertake. The information gathered is illustrated in the graph that follows.
The risk evaluation in the accommodation center showed that most fires are ignited due to the carelessness of students. Some other fires were brought about by faulty electrical appliances, short circuiting and accidental cases. Figure 1 shows the major causes of fire in the buildings and their percentages.
Assessment on individuals prone showed that the hazards could affect a lot of people judging by the number of occupants in the buildings. The buildings are constructed and furnished with materials that could not only catch fire easily but also produce a lot of smoke. The smoke again does not have enough openings to escape but instead forms “deep and thick sheets which can obscure vision, bring out breathing difficulties, jeopardize rescue operations, cause confusion, release poisonous toxins and obstruct routes for escape” (Kamau, p. 67). Smoke has the ability to spread to all rooms in the buildings affecting everyone in the center because, “it penetrates to other rooms through gaps in the walls, ceiling and the floor. Heat also raises as the fire gets trapped and the temperature rises” (McElroy, p. 82). The situation is particularly made worse at night after closure of doors and windows.
Conduction is also a major problem as the building has a lot of materials made of metal which retain and transmit heat to other areas. When this heat comes in contact with combustible materials in the presence of oxygen fire can spread more quickly.
Evaluation of the risk noted that the accommodation centre needed more escape routes to cater for the big population. In addition it was noted that the escape routes were not properly managed as materials were found in them as a result blocking them. Other notable risks were in the fire management and fighting equipments. Most of these were faulty compromising with the total safety of the people in the building.
Reduction and removal of the hazards
To get rid of fire outbreaks in these buildings, identification of the sources of ignitions and reducing them significantly should be done. Fuel for these fires should also be identified and appropriate actions which include proper storage and removal taken. Ways of handling the issues of oxygen is supposed to be considered as well. Measures of ignition reduction are as follows; putting policies in place that encourage no or safe smoking (if there should be any smoking it should be done away from the building and in safe smoking zones), ash trays should be supplied to the students for making sure that cigarettes are properly put out after smoking, making certain that electrical appliances function properly and according to instructions given by the suppliers and finally making sure that all construction work involving electrical usage is carried out in a proper way that does not put the buildings at risk.
In reduction of the fire fuels recommended measures involve the total removal of these materials from the building and combustible materials to be kept in a designated storage that is away from any source of fire. Furthermore students are supposed to be made aware of “cleaning stuffs the likes of aerosols, spirits, and paper products that might bring about the risk of catching fire. Flammable furnishes should be replaced and a policy put in place for proper and regular waste management and disposal practices” (Simiyu, p. 91). When all this is taken into consideration, the issue of combustible materials can be properly managed.
Reducing of oxygen can also help, this is mainly during fire outbreaks, and this can be done in cutting off the oxygen sources by closing all sources supplying it to the building and by deactivating the systems of ventilation.
The risk reduction measures in these particular buildings are supposed to entail “provision of early fire warning using automatic fire detection, reducing fire by removing combustible materials, controlling the number of people in the accommodation centre and increasing awareness together with student training” (Jones, p. 69). In addition the buildings need decent fire warning systems that electronically detects fires. Recommendations for these systems are that they should be fitted with smoke signals and a control panel for better monitoring. The issue of false alarms that are activated maliciously should be addressed as well. To tackle this problem activation should be monitored to make sure only genuine alarms are activated. All these risk reduction measures must comply with the fire and rescue services act 2004.
Fire fighting equipments in this center are needed for extinguishing any kind of fire that could possibly erupt. The fire fighting equipments should comprise of adequate fire extinguishers put in strategic places for easy accessibility. These must have signs showing where they can be found and notices showing the directions of usage and the kind of fires for each specific extinguisher. Horse reels are also required which will need special people trained to handle them. The extinguishers again are supposed to be checked regularly to make sure they are operational and for refills.
In addition there is the need for re-designing the escape routes of the accommodation centre to effectively carter for the population. This is to be done is such a way that people in the building “should be able to evacuate safely from any fire hazard and get to a place of reasonable safety. From there they will be able to go directly to a place of total safety away from the building” (Bugbee, p. 97). These routes are to be free off any blockages, should be enough and be able to provide for the quickest and shortest routes out of the centre.
Notices and signs are essential for guiding people to ways of escape, location of fire extinguishers and warning systems. The buildings are supposed to be equipped with this as they are required by the health and safety regulations. These signs are to be in picture form to enable everyone to know the meaning easily. All these are supposed to be strategically placed for better viewership and understanding.
Outdated equipments for fighting fire and the installation of new ones is recommended and it’s supposed to be done by an expert in the field of fire management services. The overall safety work should again be assigned to a specific individual for proper supervision.
Regular checking of the overall safety of the building should also be done. This is to be done in stages; some checks are to be done daily, some weekly, monthly and annually. These tests should cover all safety checks, fire extinguisher refills and the routine maintenance of safety equipments. “All structural fire protection and elements of fire fighting should be inspected and any remedial action carried out. Specific guidance on the maintenance of timber fire resisting doors should also be given” (Devani, p. 82).
Implementation and findings
Risks identified by this evaluation are mainly neglect and carelessness brought about by students in these buildings. The risks are then facilitated by a combination of factors involving igniters, fuels and oxidizing agents. The assessment identified the sources of fire to be electrical appliances, matchsticks, lighters and cigarette butts. The fuels were identified to be wooden furniture, clothing, mattresses, blankets, books, personal combustible materials and waste materials kept in the buildings. These factors together with the oxidizing agent (air) were responsible for the fires in the building.
Identified people who are highly prone to these risks were mainly students and to some extent fire fighters. This is because they are the ones residing in the accommodation centre, they are the ones causing the fires and are found there most of the time. Fire fighters are prone because they come to the building when there is the actual fire. It was identified that passersby’s relatives and friends coming to visit, routine maintenance workers and cleaners were also prone but to a lower degree.
Fire reduction strategies include:
Operating safe smoking zones, the ensuring of proper installation of electrical appliances, ensuring that electrical fuses and circuit breakers are in good conditions, making sure sockets are not overloaded, checking on maintenance hot work (welding), the removal of all flammable materials, arranging rooms properly, proper waste disposal and security monitoring to prevent arsons (Devani, p. 233).
Mitigation of these hazards is in the embracing of disciplined practices discouraging fire outbreaks. The affected persons should also be given training in countering these fires, the use of fire equipments and how to raise alarms. Other measures include “first aid training, evacuation measures, training on what exactly to do in the case of an outbreak and how to call rescue services” (Simiyu, p. 82).
In reviewing this assessment several important matters are put into consideration. New students should be adequately informed about the dangers of fire outbreaks, shown how to act in the event of an outbreak and instructed to adhere to safety regulations. Changes on the buildings should also be counter checked to make sure they adhere to safety regulations, new and old fire equipments should be checked and the safety concern brought out by the inhabitants addressed accordingly. When all this is considered the fires in this building will be effectively curbed.
Consequently this assessment report shows that, with proper hazard evaluation and management together with the following of available safety and health legislations these hazardous fires can be effectively mitigated. The report then concludes that:
When an assessment is done, hazards ignition sources removed, sources of fuel removed or decreased sources oxygen checked, the need for fire detection and warning addressed, the need for firefighting equipment addressed, the issue of escape routes considered, signs and notices put up, regularly testing and maintaining of safety equipment done the issue can be mitigated (Devani, p. 233).
Integrated risk management plan (IRMP)
Integrated risk management is a “framework that delivers on the commitment to strengthen risk management practices across many levels in organizations and the public as a whole” (Mathews, 243). This is necessary in this kind of situation as it plans for an effective and efficient fire and rescue service. This is because it reduces fire occurrences together with its overall effects. “IRMP also reduces life loss, accidents, reduce severity of these hazards, and safeguards the environment. The integrated risk assessment plans also identifies risks of these hazards in a given area and carries out the evaluation for preventive measures” (Bluff, p. 42).
Fire and rescue services act 2004
This act places prevention at the core of all fire and rescue activities because it centers on the promotion of societal protection and mortality prevention. In addition the act addresses the issues of lessening injuries together with the overall fire impacts.
- Bluff, Ronald. Roles of a fire fighter. London: Oxford university press, 1987. Print.
- Bugbee, Amos. Fire rescue management. London: Oxford university press, 1998. Print.
- Devani, Patel. Fire hazard mitigation. Delhi: Kathak and sons publishers, 2002. Print.
- Emily, Simiyu. Fire prevention measures. Nairobi: East African Publishers, 2008. Print.
- Grayson, James. “Causes of fires.” International journal of fire control 12.2 (1996): 42-78. Print.
- Jones, Daniela. Fire risk reduction. Nairobi: East African Publishers, 1987. Print.
- Kamau, Samuel. Effects of fire hazards. Kampala: East African Publishers, 2009. Print.
- Mathews, Lucas. Integrated risk management. New York, NY: Oxford University press, 1992. Print.
- McElroy, Daniel. Fire rescue management. London: Oxford university press, 1998. Print.
- Mutiso, Vincent. Fire safety: Awareness of fire risks among students. Nairobi: East African Publishers, 2002. Print.