We all have some lessons to learn from yesterday’s mishap but before we talk about them, let’s understand what fire fighting methods are generally available in commercial installations these days. This note is to give a brush-up to people on how to respond in a fire break-out situation.
Based on the fuel, fire can classified as Class A, B, C or D and for each type of fire, suitable extinguishing agents are specified. Class A fire is most common which is caused by burning of wood, cloth and paper for which water is a good extinguisher. DO NOT use water for other classes of fire else it could be more damaging. Class B fires are those which happen due to flammable liquids, oils and grease etc. Class C fires are those involving live electrical equipment and class D fires involve burning of metals like sodium, potassium and magnesium. Compressed carbon dioxide and dry powder extinguishers can be used for such fires. These fire extinguishing agents are identified and kept in each building at various locations.
A sprinkler system, which is usually a part of overhead piping, get activated by heat of the fire, are connected to automatic water supplies. They are considered to be 100% effective but in Villagio, it was said to be ineffective due to some reason. Sprinkler systems are also supervised electrically from a central station and alarms are automatically transmitted to the fire department whenever the sprinkler operates or a valve in the sprinkler system closes for any reason. This is to reinforce the water pressure by the fire fighting unit in case the pressure falls in the system. I feel all commercial complexes should have this interface.
Many high-rise and large buildings have internal Standpipe Systems in which a long fire-water hose is to be used by the occupants of the building to control the fire till the fire department arrives. This is meant to be used by trained occupants in the building, so it’s essential that all adult occupants are trained by the authorities to operate the hose to limit the damage.
Smoke and heat detection systems transmit alarms whenever they are activated but most often, a possible snag in the system doesn’t get noticed by the building management until the fire breaks out. It’s required that the detection system be checked and activated weekly at a specified time. Also, interfacing the alarm electrically with the nearest fire-station for notification would be a good idea.
At home or office, if a fire is detected in its initial stage, when the sprinkler is not yet active, it is best to use the solid carbon dioxide or the dry powder extinguisher on it. Such cylinders are placed at various locations in each apartment and shop. They are all suitable for A, B and C types of fire. You have to snap the plastic cord with your fingers, pull out the safety pin in the lever, lift the cylinder with your left hand, press the lever and with your right hand direct the hose towards the fire in a weaving motion keeping the hose at least about two meters away from the flame. Everyone should first get him/herself aware of this type of domestic fire extinguishers before using it.
The above is especially useful for housewives who work at home when no one is around.
Now, looking at what happened yesterday, it’s mainly due to suffocation or smoke inhalation that so many people died of this fire break-out. If you try to envisage Gympanzee’s entrance between two shops, you will find it a bit constricted with the stairs going up to the nursery with no other entrance or emergency exit. Moreover, it seems the staff was not adequately trained how to respond to a fire break-out.
These are some of the lessons I have learnt yesterday I would like to share…
- Avoid going or sending your children to places which have constricted entrance with no emergency exits. Raise your concern to authorities if the layout doesn’t have at least two exits and ventilator.
- If you hear a fire alarm, LEAVE from there without thinking further…you won’t lose anything if you leave but could lose your life otherwise.
- Don’t believe others when they say it could be a false fire alarm. Force others to leave as well.
- In case there is a fire at home or at your office, don’t panic.
- Raise an alarm, either by shouting and alerting others or by breaking the fire alarm glass.
- Remove children, disabled or sleeping persons from the location.
- If the fire is small, you feel confident and know how to operate the Dry Powder type extinguisher, use it. Else, do not go near the fire and come out of the place as soon as possible.
- Call 999 and look for any person who knows how to operate the Dry Powder type extinguisher.
- If Dry Powder is not able to put out the fire, look for few more people who are trained to operate the standpipe hose (Make sure the fire is class A).
- If it is not possible to use the standpipe hose, evacuate the building.
- Make sure you know the emergency exit door of any building you frequently visit.
Questions and Answers
- Sample Budget and Cost of Living
- Qatar Schools Database
- Residents Guide to Qatar
- Siteseeing in Qatar
- Traffic Rules
- Attending a Qatari Wedding
- Gift ideas from Qatar
- Buying a used car in Qatar
- Renting in Qatar
- What to consider when renting in Qatar
- Preparing for Winter in Qatar
- Registering a birth in Qatar
- Blackberry phones in Qatar
- Old Qatar
- What's Happening in Qatar
- Online Shopping in Qatar
- What does Doha look like?