Fire Safety Under The Fire Code

We have all at some time or the other participated in fire drills. Either in school or as adults and perhaps both. We have also learned something about fire prevention and safety. Most of the knowledge is simply general knowledge and the rest, not so. Most of us perhaps do not know enough to save our lives and others who may also be endangered. Learning about fire safety could make the difference between life and death for you and your family. Even in public buildings, being knowledgeable about fire safety can be of use to you and increase your own safety.

All public buildings are covered by laws and codes that specify fire protection measures. The local fire department has the responsibility to periodically check that such precautions are in place and functional. The people who carry out such inspections are called Fire Prevention Officers. Apart from such inspections, they also educate the public on fire safety matters by holding conferences, and making presentations at schools and other meetings. Children are given particular attention in these training programs.

The Chief Fire Prevention Officer arranges to train recruits joining the department. He is also responsible for conducting inspections as per the local regulations. These regulations specify the frequency of the inspections based on the age of the building. Infractions of the fire code can result in penal action being taken as well as the building itself being closed down, if corrective measures advised at the time of inspection are not carried out.

The fire code is distinctly different from and not to be confused with the building code. The building code specifies ingress and egress, occupancy rates etc based on the fire code relevant to the size and design of the building. The fire code is a set of rules and regulations enacted into law by local authorities to suit the local conditions. Apart from ingress, egress, and occupancy specifications, the code can even specify what activities may be carried out in the building.

Fire codes specify and list hazardous materials and give guidelines regarding their storage, handling and disposal in qualitative and quantitative measures. Permission has to be obtained from the local fire department to hold exhibitions that intend setting of fireworks be it for a one off occasion or a long term one.

An average building will have to observe some of the following rules and regulations to fall in line with local fire codes. Under no circumstance can the specified occupancy rate be exceeded. All entrances and exits must be lit and/or labeled with proper signs that will be clear even if the electric supply is discontinued for any reason. Fire alarms and extinguishers have to be compulsorily installed and one does not have a choice in the matter. Control panels for the fire alarms have to be installed in a location from where the location of a fire can be quickly identified. Specified areas, clearly identified as such, are the only places where flammable materials can be stored.

It is in everybodyís interest that all occupants in a building are educated about fire safety for their own good. Regular fire drills conducted under different climates will ensure that everyone in the building will follow the correct procedures in case of a fire, minimizing stampedes, and consequent injury or loss of life.

Only a bare minimum number of the rules and regulations to be followed in public and private buildings have been listed here. There are many more and it is the fire departmentís responsibility to conduct periodic checks to ensure their implementation. The sheer number of buildings in any area can give you an idea of how busy a fire inspector can be. Most towns today have separate offices housing the Fire Inspector and his staff for easy access to the public on matters relating to fire codes and regulations.

Apart from it being the law of the land, observing the rules and regulations of the fire code is in everyoneís interest. A breach can result in substantial penalties and may even result in the closing down temporarily or permanently of the building. It is keeping the general publicís interest at heart that the lawmakers have drawn up these laws. Most buildings display these codes in a prominent place. Let us do out bit by observing them and teaching our children by example.