By Karl Aries Emerson F. Cabilao, UAP
IT might not be the fire prevention month anymore but fire safety should be a concern all year round. With the El Nino phenomenon mixing it up with the summer season, it’s like the earth is having a fever everyday lately. And with the hot and dry climate, the possibility of fire is always high.
Property damage and loss of life caused by fire is always traumatic for the ones affected. Fire does not choose anything or anyone along its way.
Homes and buildings together with the things within it burned down are always considered as big losses that can never be restored. Just think about the overall cost of a building project and the investment that the owner poured upon the project just to see it reduced into ashes.
The design of a building and its rooms and spaces could ensure the safety of the structure and the users from any possible damage caused by fire.
And even if fire indeed takes place in the buildings, a good design and planning approach could lessen property damage and diminish the possibility of life being sacrificed. Today, these design professionals of the built environment remind people on their roles of ensuring fire safety in the rooms, spaces and buildings that they design.
“As design professionals, it is our responsibility to make sure our plans conform to the Fire Code. That is the foundation and yet the importance of designing for the environment — both tangible and invisible — must be given equal consideration. The daily activities of the users should be studied and anticipated so that architecture will not only be a “built” variable but also a manipulative tool used to control the flow of user activity within the building. This will promote a safe and fire-proof structure while setting parameters for public use.” — Ralph Richard Su, architect
“There has to be balance between safety, aesthetics and function. This is also applicable to fashion, furniture and architecture. Safety is important so it has to be considered in whatever a designer does. But in designing, too much consideration on safety will take you nowhere and hinders your growth as a designer. I take the risk but still keeping in mind safety to strike a balance with other important design components.” — Jul Oliva, interior designer and fashion/product designer
“Way-finding should be integrated into the design. Signage is often overlooked and, when properly designed and provided, can save many lives. Beyond signage, there should also be ample fire exit points, and that egress pathways are straightforward and easy to decipher.” — Neil Andrew Menjares, architect/masters candidate (University of Iowa School of Urban and Regional Planning)
“As an architect, we always plan our projects with safety in mind. We always follow the requirements and provisions that the Fire Code of the Philippines dictates to our projects such as fire exit distances, fire protection systems and specifying non flammable and non combustible finishes. We always strive to have carefully planned spaces so as to bring the utmost safety for our client and the building users. In order to minimize and mitigate property damage and loss of life in the building life cycle, we need to plan and prepare for a worst case scenario that the building responds well to emergency situations. After all, a beautiful building is a safe building.” — Emmanuel Jesus Avila, architect/civil engineer/master plumber