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Designing for Fire Safety in Schools

Designing for Fire Safety in Schools

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Published by Kay A Dankwa

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Published by: Kay A Dankwa on Sep 01, 2010
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12/31/2013

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The design of means of escape from a building
must be based on an appreciation of the
probable behaviour of fire, which may break out
in any part of the building and then spread to
other parts. Although recommendations based
on such considerations can be devised, they can
be used intelligently only if the nature of the risks
which they are intended to meet is continually
borne in mind. The design of a building should
therefore be analysed, part by part, in order to
determine the danger which might arise from a
fire, either in the part where the fire may
originate or in any other part to which it may
spread. The value of analysing a plan with these
facts in mind cannot be over-stressed.

As mentioned earlier (section 2.1) the primary
danger associated with fire in its early stages is

Figure 8 The principles of cost-benefit analysis

Flexibility

Insurance

Property Protection

Less disruption

Fewer casualties

Benefits

Installation

W

a

te

r

Hardware

Management

Maintenance

Costs

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Section 2| Background information

not flame or heat but smoke and toxic gases
produced by the fire. These may make an
escape route impassable long before a
temperature which is dangerous to life is
reached. It is therefore important to ensure that
the escape routes remain usable, ie, not blocked
by smoke, for as long as required for people to
evacuate the building.

The first and fundamental principle is the
provision of alternative means of escape. Much
of the guidance on means of escape in section
4 therefore revolves around this principle. It
ensures that people should always be able to
turn and walk away from a fire, except for very
short distances at the start of their evacuation if
they happen to be in close proximity to the fire.

One of the key ways the detailed design
guidance ensures adequate means of escape is
by setting upper limits on the travel distance to
a storey or final exit. Whilst the primary effect of
this is to limit the amount of time that people
may potentially be affected by the fire before
they reach the relative safety of a protected
stair, or the ultimate safety of the final exit, there
are also other implications.

Control of travel distance achieves the following:

limited travel time; safety may be reached
without serious exposure to smoke;

limited size and complexity of enclosure;

provision of sufficient alternative escape
capacity within a reasonable distance. If there
is a choice of exits, occupants should be able
to escape in a direction away from the fire;

increased likelihood that an exit is visible, and
remains so during fire;

reduced likelihood that a fire can occur
unseen, or grow large before
detection/alarm; and

reduced likelihood of a fire between
occupant and exit.

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