Fire Audits and How to Conduct Them

 

Fire is one of the most important forces in human history. It is sacred, it made lighting and cooking possible and it is a catalyst in almost all industrial processes.

 

But Fire can also be disastrous.

 

We casually dispel the thought of fire having any detrimental effect on our lives with the belief ‘it’ll never happen to me’; the reality on the other hand is unpredictable!

According to the records of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, around 20,000 people die every year due to fire incidents. Fire in any occupancy has the potential to cause severe damages to both life and property.

 

Also, as per a Survey conducted by FICCI, the risk of fire is huge. It is in fact the oldest risk around us and continues to be the most destructive threat to life and property. Fire safety audits of several major hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai revealed that more than half of the hospitals lack fire prevention measures.

 

In February 2012, the fire department in Mumbai had issued notices to as many as 383 high-rise buildings for not complying with fire safety regulations. Fire hazard was rated among the top six risks in all regions across India.

 

Fire is capable of causing irreversible damage – but you can safeguard yourself. Do not wait for a fire accident to get started on learning about fire safety. Going by the old adage ‘Prevention is better than cure’, a fire audit is the apt first step to take precautions and avoid a fire mishap. In addition, information about firefighting equipment is a useful skill to acquire.

 

FIRE AUDITS

A Fire Safety Audit has been found to be the most effective tool for assessing Fire Safety Standards. It helps people identify the areas for improvement and evolve an action plan. In addition to technical risk control measures like Fire Prevention, and Fire Protection, an Insurance Cover against loss of property due to fire is also recommended.

 

Need for a Fire Safety Audit

The National Building Code of India lays down a set of minimum provisions to which the buildings should be designed to protect the safety of the public. The regulations can be adopted immediately or enacted for use by various departments, municipal administrations and public bodies.

 

Fire Safety Audit ­ Concept

Fires tend to have three causes:

• Deliberate act
• People are not alert to the fire hazards
• Carelessness of the people

These causes can be eliminated by identification of fire risks. A Fire Safety Audit or Fire risk assessment is a systematic examination of the place to identify the hazards from fire.

The fire safety audits can be conducted by an external agency or by authorities or by an internal team depending on the purpose and periodicity.

 

The objective of a Fire Safety Audit is to:

• Verify compliance with established standards (regulations, internal policies and industry wise standards of practice)

• Identify deviation from designed and planned operating and maintenance procedure and standards.

• Identify conditions or operating procedures that could lead to an accident and significant losses to life or property.

 

General Safety Audit

The General Safety Audit encompasses almost all aspects of safety namely the Safety Management System, Electrical Safety, Fire Safety, Mechanical Safety, Maintenance, Physical & Chemical and construction safety.

 

Fire Safety Audit

A Fire Safety Audit is an effective tool for assessing fire safety status in industry, laboratories, office, hotel, malls, hospitals, schools etc. The audit helps to identify the areas for improvement in fire safety measures in fire prevention, protection and mitigation system in case of fire. The audit provides an action plan which is a useful for fire prevention and mitigation and emergency preparedness.

 

Electrical Safety Audit

Over 40% fire accidents happen due to fault in electric circuits, connections and always electrical system is a threat to safety of people and their property in the form of shocks, burns, injury, fire and explosion which cause damage to expensive communication equipment, loss of data, fire in cable gallery, etc.

Electrical Safety Audit is applicable for Industries, Power sector, Service sectors such as IT Parks, Hotels and Telecommunications.

 

In India fire audits are conducted by third party for the purpose of issuing statutory clearance for occupation of the high rise buildings.
The National Building Code also recommends for a periodical fire safety inspection by the key personnel of the occupants of the building to ensure fire safety standards.

 

Approach

The Fire Safety Audits conducted by fire services in India for issuing fire license or no objection certificate look at the fire protection system available at the premises, the fire escapes, and the accessibility for fire fighters and fire engines to reach remotest and vulnerable points.

 

However a more comprehensive Fire Safety Audit can cover various aspects

The scope of the Fire Safety Audit should at least cover the following:

• Identify all significant fire hazards
• Identify the people who are at risk from each hazard
• Evaluate if existing control measures reduce risk to a tolerable level
• Determine the required additional control measures required
• Availability of adequate means of escape from the premises in case of fire
• Availability of suitable fire detection and fire fighting facilities
• Availability of suitable emergency plan detailing responsibilities and actions of key personnel
• Training, information and instruction to all occupants of premises about fire safety
• Upkeep and testing of all fire safety equipment and precautions
• The methodology of conducting fire safety audit or fire risk assessment is based on the stage of construction or condition of the premises at the time of audit. In general the audit is conducted as depicted below:

 

BE PREPARED

Individually to get a sense of the fire preparedness of our property, we can conduct a basic audit ourselves using the checklist provided below. Please note that this is a rudimentary analysis of the Fire Safety and cannot replace an audit conducted by professionals or competent authority.

 

  1. For Shops –

 

YES NO
1 Are your electrical installations of good quality, fault-free and maintained by competent personnel?
2 ls the electric system protected by MCB, ELCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker)
3 Do you use one plug point for multiple electrical appliances?
4 Do you have an independent Electric Main Switch for your shop?
5 Does someone responsible switch off the Main Switch before closing?ls the Main Switch for your shop put off by a responsible person before closing?
6 Do you store materials close to electrical lights / switchesl fittings?
7 Does your shop contain Textiles /Stationery /Paints / Oil / Chemicals?
8 ls smoking permitted in your shop?
9 After the shutters are rolled down, is there a night watchman / security person to guardthe premises?
10 Are the shop personnel aware of what to do in case of smoke / fire?
Safe situation if it is (1 ) Yes (2) Yes (3) No (4) Yes (5) Yes (6) No (7) No (8) NO (9) Yes (10) YesOne score for each situation.Score between 8 and 10 very safeScore between 4 and 7 safe but needs improvement

Score less than 3 very unsafe, lot of improvement required

 

 

 

  1. For Commercial Complex

 

YES NO
1 Are your electrical installations of good quality, fault-free and maintained by competent personnel?
2 ls the electric system protected by MCB, ELCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker)
3 Do you use one plug point for multiple electrical appliances?
4 Do you have an independent Electric Main Switch for each shop?
5 Does someone responsible switch off the Main Switch before closing?ls the Main Switch put Off by a responsible person before closing?
6 Do you store materials close to electrical lights / switchesl fittings?
7 Does your complex have fire detection, alarm and extinguishing systems?
8 After the shutters are rolled down, is there a night watchman / security person toguard the premises?
9 In the vehicle parking area, is any heat-related work permitted?
10 Are the occupants of the complex aware of what to do in case of fire?
Safe situation if it is (1) Yes (2) Yes (3) No (4) Yes (5) Yes (6) No (7) Yes (8) Yes (9) No (10) YesOne score for each situation.Score between 8 and 10 very safeScore between 4 and 7 safe but needs improvement

Score less than 3 very unsafe, lot of improvement required

 

 

 

  1. For Offices

 

YES NO
1 Are your electrical installations of good quality, fault-free and maintained by competent personnel?
2 ls the electric system protected by MCB, ELCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker)
3 Do you use one plug point for multiple electrical appliances?
4 Does someone responsible switch off the Main Switch before closing?ls the Main Switch for your office put off by a responsible person before closing?
5 Do you store materials close to electrical lights / switchesl fittings?
6 Are the exits and staircase marked clearly?
7 ls smoking permitted in your office?
8 After the shutters are rolled down, is there a night watchman / security person toguard the premises?
9 Are your office personnel aware of what to do in case of smoke / fire?
10 Do you have telephone numbers of help lines in case of an emergency?
Safe situation if it is (1) Yes (2) Yes (3) No (4) Yes (5) No (6) Yes (7) No (8) Yes (9) Yes (10) YesOne score for each situation.Score between 8 and 10 very safeScore between 4 and 7 safe but needs improvement

Score less than 3 very unsafe, lot of improvement required

 

  1. House/Flat

 

YES NO
1 Are your electrical installations of good quality, fault-free and maintained by competent personnel?
2 ls the electric system protected by MCB, ELCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker)
3 Do you use one plug point for multiple electrical appliances?
4 Are there unprotected plug points at floor level?
5 Do your family members and you switch off electric supply to appliances when not in use?(not by remote)
6 Do your electrical appliances have three-pin plugs or non-metallic body?
7 Are medicines and chemicals such as pesticides stored out of reach of children?
8 Do the ladies of your house wear synthetic garments while cooking?
9 Do the ladies of your house keep a watch on children while in kitchen?
10 Do your family members have telephone numbers of help lines in case of an emergency?
Safe situation if it is (1) Yes (2) Yes (3) No (4) Yes (5) NO (6) Yes (7) No (8) Yes (9) Yes (10) YesOne score for each situation.Score between 8 and 10 very safeScore between 4 and 7 safe but needs improvement

Score less than 3 very unsafe, lot of improvement required

 

  1. Liquid Petroleum Gas

 

YES NO
1 Is your LPG stove placed above cylinder level?
2 Have you placed any stove, heater or oil lamp at floor level where LPG is used?
3 Are your family members aware of DO’s and Dont’s in case of an LPG leak?
4 ls your stove and gas hose checked periodically?
5 ls your kitchen well-ventilated with windows?
6 If you use a kerosene or pressure stove, are you aware of the safety measures while using it?
7 ls the gas geyser in your bathroom connected to an overhead continuouswater supply source?
8 Do the ladies of your house wear synthetic garments while cooking?
9 Do you use safe vessels such as milk cooker and pressure cooker instead ofopen vessels on LPG stove?
10 Do your family members have telephone numbers of help lines in case of an emergency?
Safe situation if it is (1) Yes (2) No (3) Yes (4) Yes (5) Yes (6) Yes (7) Yes (8) No (9) Yes (10) YesOne score for each situation.Score between 8 and 10 very safeScore between 4 and 7 safe but needs improvement

Score less than 3 very unsafe, lot of improvement required

 

 

This information was obtained from Eureka Forbes.

 

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