Different Fire Engines

We could hear sirens. These days we hear sirens multiple times a day, every day. With the increase in corona virus cases in Mumbai, they’re usually ambulances. A few days ago, it was a bit different. The sirens were sounding with a regularity that was disturbing. From the window, we could see people running out of the building across the road. There was panic all around. There were a couple of fire engines.

fire engines at Sierra Towers

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Fire in Damunagar, Kandivali

Spiralling black fumes and hidden orange flames. This is the view from our 9th floor apartment,  about half a kilometre (as the crow flies) from the fire that broke out this afternoon. It is scary and there is this feeling of helplessness against the visible might of the fire.

12:53 p.m.

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High rise buildings: Fire equipment is not a part of “connected load”

In high rise/ multi-storied buildings, fire safety equipment and electrical equipment are closely associated. Powerful fire pumps, connected to underground fire water tanks and fire hydrants, are among the mandatory fire-safety requirements for the issue of the Fire Department’s No Objection Certificate that certify a building as fire-safe. Though connected to the electrical power supply system of a building, fire pumps are used rarely, and mostly only in the event of a fire emergency. They are also used during fire demos and drills.

Understanding electricity “loads”

When a builder applies for an electricity connection to a multi-storied building, the “sanctioned load” he/she applies for would depend on the number of units (houses/ offices/ etc.) and power ratings of the electrical infrastructure – such as common area lights, fans, air-conditioning, lifts, pumps, waste management equipment, club house, etc.

Each unit will receive its own sanction (e.g. a 2BHK may get 3kW or 4kW) and the common areas receive a separate sanction. The sanctioned load should be able to take care of all the electrical appliances/ equipment if they were all operating simultaneously. Generally the builder will not include stand-by equipment, equipment operated through change over switches and fire equipment while calculating the load.

The “connected load”, simply explained, is the actual sum of the power ratings of all the electricity-consuming devices/ power sockets that have been connected to the power supply system. Continue reading

Is your home too secure to be safe?

Yesterday there was a fire accident in an apartment complex in Mumbai. Newspaper reports indicate that seven people lost their lives while several were injured.

Fire safety in apartment complexes is usually not on the list of priorities of either the builder or the flat owners. This is because fires are rare, and fire safety systems do not impact our day-to-day lives, unlike water pipes, lifts, lighting, landscaping, garbage, drainage, etc.

When a fire breaks out beyond control in a flat, the immediate focus of people in the flat and in other flats as well, would be to get out to safety. If the fire systems are working, the fire alarm would sound telling people to evacuate. Would you be able to escape from your building if there was a fire? Or is it so well secured that you would get trapped? Continue reading