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FIRE SAFETY


OAT TUKAEW – FIRE SAFETY CONSULTANT, RED FIRE ENGINEERS, AUSTRALIA BLAIR STRATTON – ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR, RED FIRE ENGINEERS, AUSTRALIA


Diagnosing ‘chronic cladding disorder’


Recent high-profile building fires worldwide have raised concerns regarding the risk posed by combustible building façades. So, what actions do hospitals need to take to identify and tackle the issue? Oat Tukaew and Blair Stratton offer some valuable advice.


Recent high-profile building fires worldwide have raised concerns regarding the risk involved with having combustible building products as part of the building façades. Fires involving combustible façades often spread rapidly along the building exterior. In some cases, the fire spreads from the exterior to the interior, overwhelms the fire safety systems in the building and compromises life safety of the occupants. Despite modern building codes requiring


most buildings to have non-combustible external walls, the wall components are often found to be non-compliant. The issue of combustible façade has been found to involve all types of buildings including hospitals. Fires involving hospital façades are potentially catastrophic due to the vulnerable occupants and typical emergency procedures that involve ‘defend in place’ or ‘progressive horizontal evacuation’ strategies. Neither of these strategies are appropriate to defend against external fires.


Aluminium sheet Polyethylene core


Aluminium sheet


Figure 1. Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP) consists of two layers of aluminium and a layer of composite material in the centre.


In hospitals, occupants such as those


who rely on life support systems may not be ready to be moved without first establishing a place with the appropriate equipment to receive them.1


Oat Tukaew


Oat Tukaew, a Fire Safety Consultant at RED Fire Engineers, has a Master of Science degree in Fire Protection Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (US). He has experience in performance-based fire safety engineering design. He also has


experience in fire, smoke and egress modelling, as well as hands- on research experience in fire science. He has the following qualifications and training: BSc (Mech), MSc (Fire), MSFS, GradIEAust.


Blair Stratton Blair Stratton, an Associate Director and Manager of Major


Projects at RED Fire Engineers, specialises in performance-based fire safety engineering design. His consulting career in the


fire and risk engineering field has spanned more than 15 years. He is known in the business for his extreme professionalism, meticulous nature, and his outstanding customer satisfaction


record. He has the following qualifications and training: MEFE, BE (Hons), FIEAust, CPEng, NER, RPEQ, RBP, C10, MSFS.


24 Occupants in


hospitals such as newborn babies, and individuals with infectious diseases or compromised immune systems are also more susceptible to heat and toxic products of fire.


The Problem In order to begin addressing the risk associated combustible façade on buildings, the problem must first be identified. Combustible façade is a broad description used to describe combustible elements that form the building external wall. Some façade systems are installed ancillary to the external wall for aesthetic reasons while others function as the external wall itself. Combustible façades often include two major categories of products: Aluminium Composite Panels (ACP) and Insulated Sandwich Panels (ISP). Combustibility of other wall components such as insulation, sarking and timber noggings can affect fire spread along the external wall. ACP typically consist of a composite


material between a thin layer of aluminium on each side, as shown in Figure 1. ACP are typically 3-6 mm thick and the composite materials usually consist of lightweight polymer such as polyethylene


IFHE DIGEST 2020


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