Singapore places a high priority on fire safety, and there are stringent laws in place to protect both the residents of buildings and the public. The Fire Code, along with the Fire Safety (Building Fire Safety) Regulations and Fire Safety (Building and Pipeline Fire Safety) Regulations, are essential in establishing the city-state’s fire safety regulations. This in-depth guide will examine the nuances of Singapore’s fire safety building codes to provide readers with a full knowledge of these rules and their repercussions.
Understanding the fire code
The Fire Code is the foundation of fire safety regulations in Singapore. It comprises a set of rules and requirements established or approved by the Commissioner for the specific purpose of setting fire safety standards. This code is not static; it is a living document that undergoes periodic review by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to ensure it remains aligned with the evolving built environment of Singapore.
The Code of Practice for Fire Precautions in Buildings 2018
One essential component of the Fire Code is the “Code of Practice for Fire Precautions in Buildings 2018.” This document serves as a guideline for ensuring fire safety within buildings. It covers a wide range of fire safety aspects, including fire rated glass, which is a crucial element in safeguarding buildings against fire hazards.
Fire rated glass requirements
Fire rated glass is a specialised type of glass designed to withstand fire and heat for a specified duration, providing a barrier between the fire and the building’s interior. The Code of Practice for Fire Precautions in Buildings 2018 outlines specific requirements for fire rated glass:
Minimum fire resistance rating
Fire rated glass must meet the minimum fire resistance rating prescribed by the code. This rating indicates the duration for which the glass can withstand fire without breaking or allowing the passage of flames or smoke.
Maximum glass size panel
The code also specifies the maximum size of glass panels that can be used in fire rated applications. This limitation is crucial to ensure the integrity of the fire barrier.
Building owners’ responsibilities
Building owners and occupiers bear a significant responsibility in ensuring that their properties comply with fire safety building codes, including those related to fire rated glass. They must:
Select appropriate fire rated glass
When designing or renovating a building, owners must ensure that the right type of fire rated glass is chosen for areas where it is required. This involves considering factors such as fire resistance rating and size limitations.
Fire rated glass, like other fire safety features, requires regular maintenance to remain effective. To keep the glass in good condition and functioning as intended during a fire, owners must schedule regular inspections and maintenance.
Compliance with fire code
Building owners are responsible for ensuring that their buildings are safe and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including the Fire Code. Penalties may be assessed for failure to comply, but more significantly, doing so puts tenants’ lives in jeopardy.
Old buildings and critical fire safety features
Singapore is home to numerous older buildings, many of which are commercial and industrial structures. To enhance fire safety in these ageing properties, owners are often required to install critical fire safety features. These features are essential for preventing and mitigating fire-related hazards.
Critical Fire Safety Features may include:
Fire alarm systems
These devices are intended to identify fires and notify nearby people and emergency personnel. Early warnings from them may be essential for enabling safe evacuation.
In the case of a fire, automatic sprinkler systems are intended to release water. They help in putting out the fire and halting its spread.
Smoke control systems
Smoke control systems are used to manage the movement of smoke within a building during a fire. They can improve visibility and aid in safe evacuation.
Fire extinguishers and hose reels
These portable firefighting tools can be essential for quickly tackling small fires before they escalate.
Fire safety certificates and permits
To guarantee compliance with fire safety standards, business locations in Singapore are required to get specific certificates and licences. Some of the important documents that can be needed include the following:
Fire Safety Certificate (FSC)
Business owners must obtain an FSC for their premises. This certificate attests to the building’s compliance with fire safety regulations and is typically required before occupancy.
Temporary Fire Permit (TFP)
In cases where a building does not fully comply with fire safety requirements, a TFP may be issued. This permit allows limited occupancy while owners work towards achieving full compliance.
Other relevant permits
Depending on the specific circumstances and nature of the building, other permits related to fire safety may be required. These can include permits for activities such as storage of hazardous materials or hosting large events.
Education and training
Apart from meeting regulatory requirements, it’s essential for building owners, occupants, and employees to be educated about fire safety. This includes:
Regular fire drills should be conducted to familiarise occupants with evacuation procedures and the location of fire safety equipment.
Fire safety training
Employees and occupants should receive training on how to use fire safety equipment, respond to alarms and evacuate safely.
Buildings should have clear emergency plans posted, indicating escape routes, assembly points, and the location of fire safety equipment.
Fire safety awareness
Promoting a culture of fire safety awareness can significantly reduce the risk of fires. This includes understanding common fire hazards and taking preventive measures.
Adhering to building codes as a moral obligation
Singapore’s commitment to fire safety is evident through its stringent regulations and comprehensive codes. The Fire Code, along with the Code of Practice for Fire Precautions in Buildings 2018, provides a solid framework for ensuring the safety of buildings and their occupants. Key elements like fire rated glass play a vital role in safeguarding properties from the devastating effects of fire.
Building owners and occupants must recognise their responsibilities in adhering to these fire safety building codes and regulations. By selecting the right fire rated glass, conducting regular maintenance, and obtaining the necessary certifications and permits, they can contribute to a safer built environment in Singapore.
Understanding and following Singapore’s fire safety building rules is not only required by law but also a moral obligation to protect people and property from the terrible effects of fire. In order to maintain Singapore’s status as a secure and resilient location to live and work, the city-state must continue to develop and grow along with its dedication to fire safety standards. The country can maintain its prosperity while reducing the risks posed by fire hazards by placing a high priority on fire safety.