February 15, 2022

ARCON registrar tasks design professionals on fire outbreak in markets

By Kingsley Adegboye

A good architectural design is believed to be panacea to fire incidents in Nigerian public spaces, especially markets.

This was the submission of the Registrar, Architects Registration Council of Nigeria (ARCON), Arc. Umar Murnai Saulawa, at the just concluded conference organised by the Nigerian Building & Road Research Institute (NBRRI) held in last week.

In his paper, ‘Fire Safety Design Considerations: A Panacea For Fire Severity Reduction In Markets’, the ARCON Registrar who lamented colossal loss of lives and properties to fire incidents, however maintained that,the unfortunate occurrence could be addressed with qualitative architectural design.

According to him, the primary objective of his discourse was to enlighten Nigerians on the roles of architects and architectural designs to reduce to acceptable limits the potential for death or injury and loses to the occupants, the owners, the customers and others such as fire rescue service providers.

He said, the lack of architectural designed spaces using the safety factors in the building and fire code creates environments with no restrictions to spontaneous and massive conflagrations.

He said: “Most conflagrations start off with a source of heat, while the fuel is often the combustible goods and structures that make up majority of the occupancy of the market; the open air in these spaces provides the oxygen, often exacerbated by winds and movement of hot air during the fires.”

He noted that fire incidences could be prevented through the deployment of passive and actives measures.

The passive measures, according to him take the process of utilization fixed, passive and immobile structures and design parameters in the prevention and containment of fires.

“These measures are principal component of architectural design processes governed and dictated by the building and fire codes. This is the process of utilizing architectural design in developing buildings to ensure fire safety.”

Also, Murnai added that, strict compliance to the nation’s building code should be enforced because the code delineates the process of creating an architectural drawing for a building with the necessary design measures for passive and active methods of fire safety by establishing steps and processes.

To him, these steps in design, ensure fire safety in the building by determining structural and design parameters that affect containment of smoke, fire containment, separation of stored combustible materials, speedy and safe evacuation of occupants and fighting of the fire.

Said he: “The step-by-step process provides the architect with a logical sequence and methodology for implementing code compliance during the design of the project to ensure fire safety using international best practices.

The ARCON registrar said that, the effective design of fire safety components in buildings also requires the effective use and maintenance of these components, hence, the operators of markets

should be required to maintain constant code compliance requirements and standards, which the markets were designed for.

He said: “Major components of factors that initiate conflagrations are code violations during the use of the building, by overcrowding with people and storage of goods in quantities and spaces beyond their occupancy requirements, thus creating the perfect fire triangle for fire outbreaks.

“The installed structures and equipment also require maintenance; the disposal of flammable materials in form of waste must also be adequately stored and disposed-off before they become fire risk. The certification of buildings for code compliance should be a constant check throughout the lifetime of the building.”

He said the process of fire safety in markets and to achieve quality building projects, a deliberate process must be implemented by the professionals in the design team from the unset of the project.

“The multi-disciplinary role of the professionals involved is a prerequisite for achieving fire safety.

“Fire safety and quality in building design is far more than just complying with building code requirements, it is the overall safeguard of “public health, safety and general welfare”—the intent of building codes and this is directly tied to the design professionals’ license to practice.

“Therefore, design professionals should incorporate into office practice a quality assurance process that covers building code-related issues that affect fire safety in buildings.”