DESIGNING ELECTRICAL SAFE RESIDENTIAL PROJECTS
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, ELECTRICAL FIRE IS THE MOST COMMON SAFETY HAZARD IN RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS. THE HAVELLS AND REALTY+ MASTERCLASS WEBINAR TALKED ABOUT THE ELECTRICAL FIRE SAFETY DESIGN, IMPLEMENTATION & PREVENTIVE MEASURES, ESPECIALLY FOR HOMES.
Deben Moza, Executive Director, Head of Project Management Services, Knight Frank India shared some statistics, “From 2016 to 2018 we have lost almost 61,000 lives to fire. In 2018 alone, 12,748 people died, that means around 35 Indians died every day from fire related accidents. From electrical short circuits around 1400 people die and 2000 fire accidents were caused by electrical short circuits. I believe, the main reasons for this is a lack of awareness, skilled workforce and maintenance. Electricity if managed wrongly can be very dangerous.”
Explaining the critical role of an electrical consultant in a project at the initiation stage Amit Khanna, Founder & Design Principal, Amit Khanna Design Associates (AKDA) said, “Consultant should be involved right at the initial stag of a project so that the designs can factor in the requirements. Secondly, the clients have to more serious about the electrical safety. Many a times we have seen homeowners taking risks for the aesthetics or giving more emphasis on the finishing products rather than the quality of wiring inside the walls.”
Implementing reliable fire protection systems, proper regulation and enforcement of building code provisions, enhancement of public awareness and proper use of technology and resources are key to mitigating fire hazard in residential buildings.
Overloading the electrical systems by adding electrical gadgets over time is a common cause of electrical problems. Regular checks, maintenance and upgrading of electrical systems is a must for fire prevention that can cause loss of life and property.
Tejwant Navalkar, Executive Director & Co-Founder, DFX Systems Pvt Ltd agreed, “Generally consultants are brought in much later. Especially the fire and electrical consultants. The drawback of coming into the project later is that most of the plans and designs are already frozen and the consultants have to work with what they have. Clients think they are saving cost but, it is at the expense of quality and safety.”
Giving the developer’s point of view, Jayanand Potdar, President – Real Estate Development, Reliance Industries Limited expressed, “I believe that bringing AEC consultants and MEP consultants at the drawing table stage is most beneficial from the point of view of not only the structural safety but also the cost savings. The building and design both becomes better. In addition, homebuyers are now getting more demanding, the developers too are serious about the safety and long life of the structure and would not like to sacrifice on crucial aspects such as electrical safety.”
Anoop Mittal, Ex- CMD NBCC, Founder and MD, AIDA Management Consultants added, “It is a very complex mechanism which we generally follow. When we engage an architect or designer his primary focus is on the facade and layout of the building. The electrical, fire and MEP Consultants are mostly unaware of the final product. For example in a commercial or residential buildings, the consultant might not know how the interiors will pan out finally for individual units. Mostly, the real work of the MEP consultants begins when 40%- 50% of the building construction is already over. By that time it is too late to accommodate all of his suggestions and most of the time he has to work with whatever there is available.”
SKILL DEVELOPMENT OF WORKFORCE
Elaborating on the steps that can be taken to address the big skill gap that is present in this segment, Saurabh Goel, President, Havells India Ltd said, “The product manufacturers always come at the end of the value chain after the entire design has happened, while we are the ones that can suggest the best product fit at the design stage. Also, there is a dire lack of skilled technicians in this segment which many manufacturers like us are trying to address. Havells has designed a skill development programme for electricians with plans underway to train 2500 electricians. Moreover, a customer would spend hours on selecting the specific type of wood or stone but would not spare a small amount of time to check the electrical wires and completely depends on the recommendations of the electrician who might not be the right person to do so.”
Bringing in the government’s perspective Srinivas Valluri, Governing Council Member, Fire & Security Association of India (FSAI) shared, “The Indian building codes are up to date with changing times and their correct implementation is the key to safety of the occupants. And correct execution depends on the electrical technicians. Government has been taking initiatives to solve the skill development issues through various programs, but, the private sector can make a lot of contribution by partnering with government or industry bodies to create the training mechanisms. The electrician helpers if trained properly can upgrade to becoming knowledgeable electrical technicians.”