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Firefighting and fireproofing

Shiv Kumar
A massive fire in a London high rise a few days ago and consequent loss of lives have left many experts around the world looking for answers. These days almost all multi story buildings the world over are built after delicate planning spreading into several stages which includes formulation and approvals of building plans by urban authorities, inspections by multiple agencies, built in facilities for fire fighting and emergency exit plans. Despite having gone through all the above mentioned stages, loss of so many lives in London tragedy raises a question mark over the adequacy of firefighting mechanisms, planning and executions of architectural solutions, and failure of emergency response teams to save all lives.
Why should there be a scope for even a single fatality due to fire accidents in a modern building? Can’t such buildings be designed? Lives will continue to be lost in such tragedies if the building design is not foolproof. Such a huge fire like the London inferno cannot be doused by captive firefighting resources which are mostly adequate for fighting smaller accidents. While conceptualizing this building was breakdown of such a massive fire taken into considerations? If that were the case there would not have been problems in evacuating people. Had the urban authorities taken into consideration fire of such humongous proportions breaking while approving the building?
Urban architecture planners will have to keep in mind emergency exit solutions in case of massive fires in high rises. Safe evacuation in case of emergency needs to be provisioned for in all future buildings the world over. Rapid response fire fighting teams also need to be strengthened for dealing with different kinds of challenges. Specially designed fire resistant robots can surely be a force multiplier. More research needs to be conducted in the field of firefighting in high rises and evacuation of affected people. Urban authorities face this challenge too.

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