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Fire safety regulations in VN more stringent than in Singapore
Monday,  Apr 9, 2018,08:16 (GMT+7)

Fire safety regulations in VN more stringent than in Singapore

Mr. Chen Lian Pang, CEO of CapitaLand Vietnam

Interview with Mr. Chen Lian Pang, CEO of CapitaLand Vietnam:

In the event of a fire, is living in a normal house safer than in a high-rise apartment?

On the contrary, I believe that living in a high-rise apartment is safer than in a normal house in the event of a fire. As high-rise buildings are required to comply by fire safety codes and regulations, various fire safety measures taken are included in the building’s design, thus providing residents greater fire protection compared to a normal house without fire protection. A high-rise building’s fire protection system includes fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, mechanical smoke extraction, smoke detectors, fire alarms and fire-resisting building materials.

So the role of the developer is very important, isn’t it?

Yes, the role of the developer is important. However, property management of the building plays a crucial role too. The developer can provide all required installations for fire protection such as fire alarm and fire sprinklers, but if these installations or equipment are not properly maintained by the property management and is faulty during a fire, then all the efforts of fire safety are put to waste.

At certain developments, residents are eager to form the Building Owners Committee (BOC) at an early stage while the project has not been fully handed over to homebuyers, so as to let the BOC take over property management from the developer. However, as a developer, we want to ensure that majority of our homebuyers are taken care of, and thus do not rush to hand the responsibility over to BOC too early. Thus, as a responsible developer, we continue to manage our developments for 2 years after completion. During this time, we set standards and procedures before handing over to the BOC. After which, we still have a dedicated team to inspect and support the property management as well as conducting audits on the BOC.

Do you think the fire regulations in Singapore are better than in Vietnam?

Fire safety regulations in Vietnam are more stringent than in Singapore. But even so, we aim to exceed the requirements in fire safety design considerations in Vietnam for all our projects.

Some examples:

1) Staircase Escape Door: CapitaLand Vietnam installs a one-way wing-in only staircase escape door as part of our enhanced fire safety measure to reduce pressure escape. This retains the pressure within the pressurized stairwell which keeps the fire out when the door can remain close. One-way wing-in is safer for evacuation. People run in and not out. This will prevent any accident happen causing the resident not to collide with each other if it is a two-way door. One-way door can keep the door permanently closed to maintain the pressure within the stairwell, otherwise without the pressure, the staircase loses it fire protection function.

2) Fire Rated Main Door: All main doors installed by CapitaLand Vietnam meets the fire-rating requirement of 70 minutes by Vietnam’s fire regulations, whereas Singapore’s fire regulations only require the fire rating to be 60 minutes.

3) Fire coverage. The fire protection system is designed to cover 240 m2 of fire affected area base on Vietnam’s fire regulations. But in Singapore, only 144 m2 of fire affected area.

4) Wet Riser: CapitaLand Vietnam installs wet risers which can provide water for 180 minutes as required by Vietnam’s fire regulations. In Singapore, the regulation is 45 minutes.

5) Maximum travel distance from unit main door to fire escape staircase: CapitaLand Vietnam abides by the Vietnam’s regulation of 25m. In Singapore, the regulation is 30m. To be more specific, Capitaland 25 meter for 1 way escape corridor and 40 m for 2 way escape corridor. Singapore apply 30 m for 1 way and 70 m for 2 way.

If Vietnamese fire rules are better than in Singapore, why are the consequences in Vietnam worse?

Although Vietnam’s fire regulations are more stringent than in Singapore, the success of implementation is dependent on developer’s compliance and individual residents’ responsibility and awareness of their personal fire safety measures at home. In addition, the BOC is important in ensuring the maintenance of these fire systems and equipment to function properly in the time of need, as well as by conducting regular fire drills to educate residents on the fire escape procedures and route for their own safety during evacuation.

The escape fire ladder can reach only at the 10th floor maximum, how people in higher floor can be rescued?

As long as the property has been built in accordance with fire safety codes, there should be no issues rescuing residents on higher floors. The answer to exiting the building in a timely manner, even from higher floors, is through the pressurized exit stairwell which keeps fire and smoke from entering the space. For the safety of residents, I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of maintaining a clear path to and inside the staircase. Therefore, please do not litter, damage the door or place objects within this area for your safety and others in the event of a fire.

Please explain more about the pressurized staircase?

Like water’s natural flow from high pressure to low pressure, the air pressure within the exit staircase has a similar concept. With higher pressure within the pressurized zoned of the staircase than outside, air is being pushed out instead of entering into the staircase. Therefore, smoke and fire are kept outside of the staircase. Pressure ventilations, operated 24 hours by electricity or a backup generator, can be found at the top of the staircase box to maintain higher air pressure within the staircase compared to outside. It is very important to maintain this ventilation system and ensure that it is functional as the safety and lives of thousands of residents depend on this stairwell. Therefore, homebuyers must take initiative to check for this.

How to check if the staircase box is pressurized properly?

One way to check is if the door to the staircase heavy to push. If the door can be opened easily, it may mean the pressure is not high enough. Residents must take responsibility to keep this door permanently closed to maintain the pressure within the stairwell, otherwise without the pressure, the staircase loses it fire protection function. Fire and smoke can enter into it and disrupt or hinder the evacuation process.

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