When you are in the process of building or renovating an apartment building, part of your construction should consist of an effective fire protection strategy. Large, multilevel apartment buildings can pose unique challenges that require thorough planning. Consider the following factors as you make your plan.
Use Fire-Resistant Materials
Although the installation costs will be higher, each unit should be separated by fire-resistant walls, ceilings, and floors. The use of fire-resistant materials will essentially create a barrier between each unit. This can prevent a fire from spreading between units as quickly and also reduce other concerns after a fire, such as smoke and water damage. Basic materials, such as plywood a sheet rock, are easily consumed during building fires, often making the entire building a total loss. The upfront cost of fire-resistant walls will pay for itself if only one unit is damaged by fire. Many fire-resistant materials also have the added benefit of improving insulation between units and decreasing noise.
Using fire-resistant materials is critical for escape routes. For example, the staircases should be enclosed with fire-resistant walls to minimize the chance of a fire consuming the staircase, especially in high-rise buildings. Fire doors should also be installed on each floor leading to the stairway and any doors leading to fire escapes. Although fire doors will not completely eliminate the possibility of a fire reaching the stairway, as long as the doors remain closed, they can impede the fire's progression into the stairway.
Install Sprinklers And Drainage
Fire sprinklers are essential in multilevel residences to help contain a fire and allow more time for residents to evacuate the building. Your sprinklers should be used in conjunction with a notification system to alert first responders to a problem at your building, especially if a fire were to occur at night. To minimize damage from sprinklers, whether they are activated during a fire or accidentally, you should consider installing a drainage system. Since fire sprinklers are typically installed in hallways and corridors, the floors in these areas should have a drainage system to move water away from the hallway to the outside of the building. This can prevent unnecessary structural damage to other units, especially those located below the fire.
Create Larger Fire Escapes
Fire escapes are necessary in the event of an emergency in multilevel apartment buildings. You need to consider ways to make fire escapes accessible to many people and those who may have mobility limitations. Fire escapes should be accessible through doors, not windows, to ensure all residents can access them. The platform at each level should be large and strong enough to support several people who may be waiting to go down the fire escape. Additionally, the platform should be sufficient to hold wheelchair-bound residents who cannot escape to the lower or upper levels and will need further assistance from first responders.
Have An Emergency Plan
The emergency plan for your residents will depend on the construction of your building. Make sure exits, fire escapes, and alternate rescue sites are clearly labeled. When new tenants move in, give them a copy of the emergency plan and encourage them to review the information to ensure they understand what to do. You should also keep an updated database of tenant information to give to first responders in the event of an emergency. Although the database will not account for visitors or other people that are unknowingly inside the building, first responders will have a general idea of which units are occupied and how many people reside in each unit.
If a fire occurs in a multilevel apartment building, the results can be catastrophic without adequate preparation. When you are in the process of constructing a new residential building or renovating an existing structure, finding ways to keep a potential fire contained and having a solid emergency plan can help keep residents safe and minimize structural damage. For more tips, contact a local fire safety equipment supplier like Nor Cal Fire Protection.