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    Real Estate Bulletin, 5 November 2019
    The more expensive a building, the safer?

    To what extent are modern new buildings protected from fire and do security systems depend on the class and cost of housing?

    Sergey Bryuzgin, Head of the HVAC Department of Metropolis, and his colleague Alexander Arkhipov, Deputy Head of the HVAC Department, helped to sort out the issue of building safety for readers of the Real Estate Bulletin.

    An apartment in a new building and a new car - what can be common between these items? Of course, these are the two things that modern man first of all tries to acquire. And the main selection criteria for both real estate and means of transportation will be quality, comfort and safety. But if further comparative analysis is carried out, surprising paradoxes can be found.

    If we talk about quality and comfort, then the cost factor in this case comes to the fore. Just like when buying a new car, the more expensive the price segment of real estate we consider, the more pleasant facts we will find: good location, convenient and developed infrastructure, high-quality modern materials and technologies, etc. But if we talk about fire safety , then the purchase of elite housing does not guarantee the owner higher security compared to an apartment from the mass segment.

    If the level of safety may differ for cars of different price classes, then it will be the same in capital construction projects. All buildings are required to have a sufficient number of fire protection systems for people and property. It would be strange if any number of victims were allowed in low-budget new buildings. In this regard, the general rule “more expensive means better” does not apply in this case.

    The fire safety of a building depends primarily on its architectural, planning and engineering solutions, and the cost of the equipment used practically does not play a role.

    Starting from 2009, the regulatory requirements for fire safety of capital construction facilities have been significantly tightened. Therefore, when choosing real estate, we recommend paying attention not only to the cost, but also to the age of the house.

    For example, buildings designed by regulatory documents, which operated until 2009, fall behind modern standards. At that time, for corridors and rooms equipped with exhaust smoke ventilation, no systems were provided to compensate for the products of combustion removed during a fire. This can lead to tragic consequences - it will not be possible to open evacuation doors due to a large pressure drop.

    We conclude: the “younger” the building, the greater the number of modern fire safety regulations it takes into account and, therefore, the potentially safer it is.

    Fundamental principles of building fire safety systems:

    1. Space-planning solutions to limit the spread of fire
    2. Escape routes that meet the requirements for safe evacuation of people in case of fire
    3. Fire detection systems (installations and fire alarm systems), warning and evacuation management in case of fire
    4. Primary fire fighting equipment
    5. Complex of engineering systems for smoke protection

    Smoke ventilation systems provide smoke-free escape routes. Automatic fire suppression systems limit or prevent the spread of fire. Automatic control and power supply systems ensure the operability of the relevant engineering systems in case of fire.

    If we switch to a simpler and more understandable language, then when choosing a typical modern house (we are talking about buildings with a height of 28 meters and above), you need to pay attention to the following aspects:

    1. As a rule, in floor-by-floor elevator halls (possibly with the exception of the first floor) fire-safe zones should be provided for temporary shelter of persons with limited mobility (people who are not able to evacuate on their own through smoke-free stairwells). A distinctive feature of the security zones is high-quality entrance doors with sealing of the porches - the so-called smoke and gas-tight doors. The safety zones are provided with air overpressure (providing overpressure in the protected room) in case of fire (see the presence of a ventilation grill), and the air supplied to the safety zones is heated in winter. This allows to exclude hypothermia of sheltered people.
    2. In the common floor corridors, two gratings of smoke control systems should be provided: under the ceiling - a grill of the exhaust smoke ventilation system, in the lower part of the corridor - a grill of the system for compensating removed combustion products.
    3. Also, fire cabinets and other equipment (sensors, annunciators, etc.) should be placed in the common floor corridors to ensure fire detection and safe evacuation.

    Living in a house that meets all these requirements will be sufficiently safe. The issue of the quality of commissioning during the installation of systems and the implementation of relevant routine maintenance during operation is the responsibility of the management services and supervisory authorities. Here, too, positive changes are taking place. Supervisory authorities take fire safety measures very seriously and do not give permission for the commissioning of a facility until all regulatory requirements are met and systems are brought to design condition.

    In addition, it is worth noting the complexity of developing fire protection systems in unique (including high-rise) buildings. Without going into engineering details, we can note the main factors complicating the design of such objects:

    1. Ensuring safe evacuation given the increased number of people
    2. Complex architectural and planning solutions (the presence of atriums, passages, combining premises of different functional purposes in one building)
    3. Availability of unique design solutions that are not regulated by standard regulatory requirements

    Despite this, such buildings should not be feared. Specialists approach their fire safety with particular care: “special specifications for fire protection” are developed, the coordination of which takes place in several instances, and all deviations from the norms or uncertainty of decisions are checked and rechecked by specialists of the highest level several times.

    And in conclusion, we add: the requirements for modern engineering systems for fire safety of buildings are constantly increasing, and the systems themselves are being improved.

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