Building fire safety should be one of the first considerations of business owners, who are leasing or purchasing any type of property for their business. Unfortunately, fire safety complacency remains a problem.
This feeling of false security may have contributed to the Oakland, California warehouse tragedy that took place in 2016. A warehouse was used for a dance event that ended costing 36 people their lives when a fire broke out. Although the fire protection industry has seen a decrease in the number and extent of loss of fires in the last decade, preventable incident.
The warehouse did not have enough exits to accommodate the number of people present in the event of an emergency. A lack of adequate fire protection measures, such as proper ventilation and substances to keep out of the space, was also cited.
The Australian FPA continues to urge business owners to comply fully with the National Construction Code that lists the fire protection measures that should be in place for each building type to avoid future tragedies that can be easily avoided. Building fire safety through clearer national safety laws in the US and in Australia will protect life and property in emergency situations.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a sister agency to the Australian Fire Protection Agency (FPA), shares this incident to stress the need for greater fire safety code compliance and to warn against complacency.
Fire codes are put in place for logistical reasons. The layout of new buildings, or existing ones that will be used for a different purpose than was originally intended, is planned around these codes. If a location is intended to be used by many people at once, there should be a certain number of exits, fire hydrants, and other precautions.
The warehouse that was used to host the dance event was not constructed to accommodate the number of people that were present at the event or their activities. The large number of people could not find enough exits to escape the fire in time, highlighting the need to follow fire laws in the US and Australia (and anywhere else, for that matter). National safety laws should be clear enough for anyone to understand and should use layman’s terms. Lay people are more likely to read safety signs and informational posters then they are to refer back to a fire safety manual or call an expert for an assessment. So, one of the ways we can ensure that fire safety regulations are followed is by making these codes easy-to-understand and accessible.
Educating people about what safety laws mean and why they are put in place will increase the chance that these codes are accepted and followed. Stricter and more consistent enforcement of these laws will instil a sense of accountability for all occupants of a building. The cost of life and property damage greatly outweigh the cost of training employees to stay informed and current on national fire safety laws. For more information about building fire safety, contact FCF today.