The Importance of Compartmentation in Fire Safety Plans
Fire safety is so important in every building type. It only takes a few seconds for a fire and smoke to spread throughout a building, and it only takes a tiny gap or hole for it to begin spreading fast, causing devastation to a structure and causing injuries and fatalities in its wake. Compartmentaion within buildings is an important process that keeps a fire from spreading, containing it in one place within a structure. There are a few ways that a building can be designed with compartmentation in mind, looking to increase the efficiencies of fire safety, including the actual structure of the building, as well as fire doors. From here, the person responsible for the fire safety of the building will have a solid foundation to build from in terms of planning evacuation routes and putting together fire safety drills.
With the creation of compartments within a building the spread of fire and smoke can be resisted for a long enough period of time for an escape plan to be effectively put into action, allowing all people within a building to escape unhurt before the fire spreads. It also allows time for the fire department to arrive and to attempt to tackle the fire. There are a few different facets of fire protection to take into account, ensuring that compartmentation is as effective as possible.
The first thing to consider is the fire doors that have been installed in the property. Fire doors are a legal requirement in certain types of buildings. You always see fire doors in student accommodation, multi-occupancy properties of any kind (including both domestic properties and commercial enterprises), as well as in educational facilities and healthcare facilities. Fire doors must be self-closing, have a fully certified door as well as a certified doorframe. When closed a fire door must not show any gaps at all.
Once fire doors are installed there must be full education for all inside the building as to how to operate them. Fire doors should never be wedged open; as if they are the entire building is then exposed to the risk of fire and smoke spreading easily throughout in a worst-case scenario. Even if the rest of the building is compartmentalised perfectly, one fire door wedged open can ruin all plans and put the rest of the building in danger. Human error in this way can be eradicated with careful fire safety plans, hazard awareness and a strict policy of regular fire drills, knowledge of fire escape routes and all other aspects of fire safety management.
As well as secure and solid fire doors and the management of fire doors it is also important to understand how the structure of the building can help with the compartmentation and minimising of fire risks. Effective compartmentation does save lives, but all aspects of a building has to be working in the correct way. Entrance doors must meet fire regulations, fire doors must be kept closed at all times and residents must understand the fastest and safest routes out of the building in the event of a fire.