Jane Embury looks at recent statistics and how compartmentation is a critical issue.
Statistics published by the Home Office show that there has been a 10% drop in the number of fires attended by fire and rescue services (FRSs) in England.
However, to September 2019, there was a 9% increase in dwelling house fires in a twelve-month period.
The bare statistics are that FRSs attended 163,039 fires. This was a 10% decrease compared with the previous year (182,013).
This decrease was across all fire types but was particularly driven by a 13% decrease in secondary fires (from 103,360 to 90,236)
There were 69,534 primary fires (43% of the 163,039 fires attended). This was a 7% decrease compared with the previous year (74,730).
There were similar decreases for dwelling fires (7%), other building fires (5%) and road vehicle fires (6%).
However, there were 252 fire-related fatalities, compared with 251 in the previous year.
There were 203 fire-related fatalities in dwelling fires, compared with 187 in the previous year (an increase of 9%).
In addition, there were 6,980 non-fatal casualties, a 2% decrease compared with 7,107 in the previous year.
At Wrightstyle, our expertise is all about supplying – and installing – fire-resistant systems for interior and exterior applications.
In the residential sector, we are, for example, completing a contract in Bristol. This is to upgrade an escape route in a multi-storey building.
We have also completed a similar contract in London, building in additional safety in an older-style and multi-storey residential building.
Most importantly, our systems prevent the spread of fire by creating compartments within which fire can be contained.
This allows for damage limitation and, with protected escape routes, allow residents to escape. It also allows fire fighters to gain access to the seat of the fire.
That concept of compartmentation becomes essential in commercial buildings where fire safety is down to three things. First, a regularly-tested alarm system to detect and warn of the danger.
Second, a sprinkler system to damp down the fire. (We recently highlighted how such systems were mandatory in Scotland in care homes, but not in England).
Third, fireproof compartments to contain the fire at source and prevent it spreading.
How those elements are applied depends on the size of the building, its complexity and its function.
For example, an evacuation plan for a hospital will be different to that of an office block.
However, in every kind of building, the needs of those less mobile must be considered, and not everybody takes fire alarms seriously.
Evacuation of a building can therefore take considerably longer than predicted, so designers shouldn’t be complacent.
We’ve also recently highlighted how some architects specifying 60 minutes of advanced glazing system fire protection being downgraded in the final design to 30 minutes.
It saves money for the contractor, certainly, but it’s also a false compromise on fire safety, which is all about human safety.
So why not take a look around our website and learn more about the importance of compartmentation and how we can make it happen.