Importance of Fire Safety in High Rises
Authored by Kushal Bajaj, Executive Director, Geeta Aluminium
Aluminium has been a staple in innovative architecture since 1930s. It offers the construction industry an opportunity to design and manufacture high performance structures that are safe, energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Aluminium is highly appreciated in the building sector for its very long in-service life, low maintenance and its contribution to the energy performance of buildings.
When it comes to fire- safety in high rises, aluminium plays a pivotal role since it is imbibed with features like:
Aluminium is a good conductor of heat and electricity and does not burn, and is therefore classified as a non-combustible construction material. Aluminium building materials are weather proof and corrosion resistant. It’s exceptionally high strength to weight ratio makes it useful especially as a structural material, weighing upto 65% less than steel. Industrial roofs and external walls are increasingly being made of thin aluminium cladding panels (Solid Sheets and not ACPs), intended not to melt during a major fire, allowing heat and smoke to escape and thereby minimizing damages.Design flexibility, strength, durability and dimensional stability are remarkable attributes of aluminium profiles. It is not surprising, therefore, that aluminium profiles constitute the natural structural components for large glazing surfaces like verandas, skylights, curtain walls and large sliding windows.
When aluminium is exposed to fire, its large thermal conductivity allows it to quickly dissipate large amounts of heat from the flame and absorb even more thermal energy from the center of the fire and helps in cooling the environment. Aluminium as a metal can be used for creating bigger openings to rescue people as well. But major concern is fixed steel grills which are installed outside the windows have been the key reason to endanger life which delays the rescue operations. Therefore we recommend to provide large openable system windows with no obstacles like grills or walls which might lead to no escape routes.
As the saying goes “Prevention is better than cure” – by installing fire rated windows and doors in your home or building, you will be helping to restrict and delay the spread of fire, smoke, and fumes from one part of the building to other parts. A fire rated window or door also helps to facilitate the safe and quick evacuation of occupants and help minimize damage to property. A fire rated window system is designed to withstand high temperatures to not only prevent the fires from spreading further, but also reduce the risk of glass overheating and breaking.
As the real estate sector is growing, consumers as well as builders are growing more concerned about the lifecycle of the building and its materials on the structures. The fire performance of aluminum composite material (ACM) systems on the facade of a building is extremely critical now; recent fire events have heightened the awareness of ACM creating concerns regarding occupant safety, as well as property loss. Proper fire planning of modern structural elements can offer several solutions, such as sandwich panels with fire-resistant or flame retardant materials.
As architects, contractors, consultants and real estate owners look to meet stringent safety requirements in the construction and refurbishment of high-rise buildings for both residential and commercial uses, aluminium cladding provides an alternative that is not only safe but that is also durable and attractive.
When anodized (production of an oxide layer on the surface), aluminium cladding is also resistant to UV, scratching and corrosion while keeping its natural metallic look. This makes solid aluminium an ideal material for use in roofs, balconies, sun ventilation screens and interior ceilings, pillars, wall cladding and escalator casings. Anodized aluminium cladding is recyclable, making it part of the solution for reducing greenhouse gases and energy consumption. And because it can be recycled repeatedly without losing any of its quality, it has no negative impact on air quality, soil or ground water in the areas surrounding the architectural project. Solid aluminium offers a number of benefits, and is a safe alternative making it ideal for high-rise projects.
However, they’re not the only defense you need. In addition to meeting the Fire Safety Standards, you should protect your home in other ways. This includes managing the vegetation on and around your property, regularly clearing away potentially flammable debris, and ensuring easy access to water sources.