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Old 13th August 2012, 08:05   #16
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Post Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

GTO,
Thanks for the thread, its an eye opener. BTW did your building have any fire fighting equipments like hose reels, etc available and if yes, were they in working condition.

Our office regularly conducts the mock fire drills and main intention is to ensure that everyone realizes the importance of time within which they need to evacuate the building. I have been shouting at the top of my voice to have fire fighting equipments installed in out housing complex but has fallen to deaf ears of the society committee. Also the path leading to out building is so narrow that I doubt any Fire truck can make its way in case of any fire.

One most imp thing to do as a prevention is to keep the list of emergency utilities like Fire, MGL, MSEB and Police contact nos handy.
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Old 13th August 2012, 11:25   #17
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

This is a very important thread that everyone should go through.

An addition to GTO's points:
a) Get a small fire extinguisher for your home. Its available in the sizes of a Baygon spray can.
b) If your room has caught fire, do NOT open the windows, as fresh air can aggrevate it (as told by one of our Fire marshalls in our mock drill). Closing all the windows can help control the fire.
c) This point maybe discussed before, but if your room is full of smoke, try crouching and duck walking as smoke coupled with warm air tends to occupy the upper half of the room.
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Old 13th August 2012, 15:11   #18
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
I'd pick up my backup hard disk
Best to keep an extra backup hard-disk offsite . Use TrueCrypt on it if you fear someone else reading your data.

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Originally Posted by dhinchak View Post
Can someone let me know, where to buy a Fire Extinuisher from?
You can buy ceasefire fire extinguishers online : Link

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Originally Posted by ghodlur View Post
BTW did your building have any fire fighting equipments like hose reels, etc available
Ours is a 60+ year old building. No fire fighting equipment at all.

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Originally Posted by _raVan_ View Post
If your room has caught fire, do NOT open the windows, as fresh air can aggrevate it (as told by one of our Fire marshalls in our mock drill).
So true. I remember reading up on this online. It was the Sauna which caught fire at our place. No, we didn't open it (luckily remembered the article), else the fresh supply of oxygen would have lead to a catastrophe.

Added this point to the opening post:

Quote:
Keep the doors UNLOCKED on your way out (how else will the fire fighters get in?).

Last edited by GTO : 13th August 2012 at 15:13.
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Old 14th August 2012, 14:10   #19
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

This is an excellent thread as it prepares a person mentally for such situations.

I have learnt the hard way about how a fire can bring your life to scratch and how you have to start all over again. I have been part of a cruise ship that was lost at sea due to fire and along with that we lost all our belongings and all our documents and identities and our jobs, hence had to start all over again.

Most of the things have been covered by GTO in a very professional and very precise manner but if I may be allowed to add a few more things that I learnt by my experience.

1. For offices and homes in high rise buildings, it is imperative for all occupants to be aware of escape routes. Primary and secondary. Have mock drills if possible.

2. Fire exits or secondry escape routes have to be checked from time to time to be free of any obstructions. Usually these fire exits end up as garbage dumps hence blocking routes. Also these exits should not be locked.

3. Keep your very very important files at one place all together or atleast keep some photocopies together and also at another location. In case of emergency it will be easier for you to grab them quickly and run. Why I am saying this because when we had the fire I could not collect everything as everything was scattered. Apart from otherthings I ended up loosing my wallet and it had my driving license. Without the DL number I had to start from scratch to get a new one.

4. If you have a fire extinguisher make sure you and the other people around you at home or office apart from knowing how to use it should also know for what kind of fire it is to be used. Just imagine you use a water type extinguisher for electrical fire and foam type for furnishing fire, it just wont work and moreover it would have an adverse affect all together.

5. If you using CO2 type extinguisher, make sure all windows are closed, the area is airtight and small and you can exit fast after starting it or else you will get suffocated yourself.

6. Get your exingueshers periodically checked and make them write down the date of inspection. Its a must

7. Crawling on the floor while exiting in heavy smoke and feeling the door knob with the back of your hand (must) before opening any door has already been covered before.

Regards
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Old 14th August 2012, 14:37   #20
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

God saves! It's only after a mishap happens we came to know how important are the safety measures!

If you could have shared the cause of fire too, that will help us avoid the same mistake. Was it a flat? Sorry to ask but I got confused.
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Old 15th August 2012, 15:48   #21
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Deky,

Thanks for sharing those valuable tips.

@ mercedised : Yes, it was in an apartment. The fire started from the sauna room. While the exact cause is still unknown (as the wooden sauna room has all but disappeared ), we can safely narrow it down to an electrical malfunction.
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Old 15th August 2012, 19:34   #22
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

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Great Thread GTO. Thanks.

The presence of water sprinklers in every room was one of the main reasons I bought the flat, where I live today.

I hope more people pay importance to this basic safety feature rather than recreation facilities.
Its good to know that the damage was not much.

The sprinklers are the new building norms for high rise and without that you dont get the fire clearances required for the OC.
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Old 15th August 2012, 20:06   #23
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

I don't know how many of us would religiously practise this, but it's important to know who is on the premises and where. In our office, there is one fire marshal from each department/team whose job it is to know who is in office and who is not. This will ensure the fire marshal knows who would be missing. This is a little difficult to practise in residential buildings, but as GTO rightly said you can alert the neighbours and others on your way out.

One important part is move the old and disabled out first. The reason for this is you have enough time at the beginning to move them out of trouble's way so that they don't obstruct the healthier ones.

Avoid running, it may result in people falling down and lead to unnecessary complications.

If at all any of you are worried about important documents and other objects, please buy a fireproof safe in which you can store all the valuables. Don't be tempted to collect things in the "top two things I would pick up if a fire broke out" fashion. It can lead to extreme consequences.

More importantly do not try to be a hero by trying to save a person trapped in the fire. Let the fire brigade handle it. This was the advice given by our fire safety consultant. We are ill equipped in the various techniques of handling such emergencies and in the event one of us decides to try and save a life, he is actually putting his own at risk too.

Regarding opening or not opening windows, if it's a highrise where winds usually blow at high speeds, there's a strong possibility the winds may actually stoke the fire. However in many smaller buildings there may be smoke trapped inside which may kill people. As our consultant said the smoke kills more people than the fire. So I am not sure if opening the windows to let the smoke out may be good.

If there's smoke, stay close to the floor as the smoke usually drifts upwards. Closer to the floor you may escape from the smoke.
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Old 16th August 2012, 10:52   #24
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

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Originally Posted by dadu View Post
Its good to know that the damage was not much.

The sprinklers are the new building norms for high rise and without that you dont get the fire clearances required for the OC.
In Hyderabad, most apartments have the sprinklers installed in the corridors.

Mine has them inside every room.
I have seen this feature in very few buildings, while I was house hunting.
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Old 16th August 2012, 11:01   #25
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

You can also Scan/Photograph all you important documents and keep them as .jpg files on your computer with an additional backup on some online storage site/multiple locations
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Old 16th August 2012, 13:47   #26
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Just my two cents guys,
My house caught fire in 2005, hence would like to share my learnings as well from the incident.

My neighbor's house caught fire, by virtue of which, mine as well caught fire. The only way we were able to make it out was the timely detection of the pungent smoke in my room, which woke me up from my sleep at 4am in the morning. Nothing much was ruined, however the entire experience was a learning. My points below

1. Remember that where there is smoke, there is fire. Hence purchase and install smoke detectors if not the fire extinguisher itself. It will help buy you valuable time in detection and escape.

2. Learn how to operate the fire fighting systems in your society and engage in demos of the same from the companies that maintain it in your society. We had installed 5 extinguishers in the building complex, one each on a floor and well maintained, however when the time came to use it, it took 5 of us 15 minutes to open the pin and spray. Reading operating instructions in the heat of the moment with the adrenaline rushing is impossible.

3. Shout for help irrespective of time of fire and society rules.

4. Keep all documents (passports etc and spare cash) in a folder which you can take in case of an emergency in times of scooting in terms of an emergency.

5. Most of all, keep calm.


Hope it helps save lives

Ritesh
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Old 16th August 2012, 15:02   #27
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

>>>
GTO,

Good to know that all is well.
Exemplary thread - thank you for listing the dos; ditto for deky and the others.

Re. the ELCB, I believe the BMC ( in Bombay) and DESU (in Delhi earlier) had made it mandatory to have ELCBs installed based on type of building/flat/shop/office/load and so on.

It is imperative to get a certified/reliable wireman install an ELCB of the correct specs to ensure power is switched off the moment a leak in current is detected. The modern avatar of an ELCB is a residual current device - an RCCB ( residual current circuit breaker) or an RCBO ( residual current circuit breaker with overload protection). The RCBO is safer.



Regards
issigonis
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Old 16th August 2012, 21:41   #28
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Some tips:

1. Have a fire drill performed in your building at least once a year - this will help people know what is to be done in such an emergency.

2. Take out a fire insurance policy - you will be able to buy a house of similar value of you have insured it adequately. Premium is minimal (less than 0.1% of the value) and they have a 50% discount if you take a 10 year policy - but this is not advisable as most properties appreciate in value and you would be caught on the wrong foot with the 'average clause' being applied and you could lose a substantial portion of the claim. So it is best to take out a policy every year.

3. Observe unsafe practices by neighbours - smoking and throwing cigarrete butts around, incendiary waste lying around (paper, dried leaves, etc), and ask them to avoid such practices.
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Old 16th August 2012, 23:36   #29
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Their response was exemplary! They were here in 10ish minutes of making the call. Before the first truck ran out of water, the 2nd was called here. These are amongst the bravest men out there, hats off to them.
Extremely sad for what happened in your house. Yes, the fire brigade are one of the best in the Government trade, I salute them too. Their discipline and sincerity is something to be aspired for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thad E Ginathom View Post
Fire can kill people in their sleep.
Very right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhinchak View Post
And, is there any maintenance required for the Fire Extinguishers?
Think GTO gave you the link for buying. Maintenance is given on the extinguisher itself, it has to be checked periodically and even emptied and refilled, that is the only way you can be sure that it works all the time. An expired extinguisher is of no use to anyone.

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Originally Posted by vibbs View Post
"It is of paramount importance to use Co2 Extinguisher or Dry chemical powder in case of an electrical fire. Water based ones may lead to electrocution in case the wires are still live."
That is a very very important point vibbs which is what I wanted to say when I read the thread title. There are different kinds of fire extinguishers for different kinds of fire, mixing them up will cause more harm than help.
Somebody here said that water should not be used for a cooking oil fire which is so wrong, water is what should be used for an oil fire.

A very important fact also is the opening of doors and windows to let the smoke out, if you do that, all you will be doing is to fan the fire, remember, fire needs OXYGEN just like we do, so cut off all routes to Oxygen and your fire starts dying, easier said than done, but never open windows to let the smoke out.

Also, if possible try to go for some one day fire safety classes being organised by fire safety companies like USHA or Ceasefire etc. They help you in being better prepared and empower you to battle a fire in a very informed way. There are some wonderful people out there who teach you in such a way that you will never forget.

Last edited by esteem_lover : 16th August 2012 at 23:37.
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Old 17th August 2012, 02:19   #30
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
A part of my place recently caught fire. Luckily, we got away without any serious damage to life or property.
It's god's grace and quick thinking cause of which the loved ones are safe. Relieved to know that there is not much of a damage either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkaile View Post
At home, the fire extinguisher should be near the kitchen and the main electric panel because they are two most vulnerable places.
I feel it should not be near a vulnerable place, as sometimes it might be difficult to reach the extinguisher if that area is already engulfed in fire. Yes, in kitchen some easily accessible place under the Sink will be a good option. otherwise I'll prefer it be in a drawing room/Bed room away from potential source of fire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhinchak View Post

And, is there any maintenance required for the Fire Extinguishers?
Yes, maintenance is very important and usually the sourcing company does a periodic check/maintenance.

In one such incident, there was a fire in the parking lot of the nearby CHS, where I had gone to consult a Doctor. A stationary bike caught fire, not sure how it happened. Right above the fire, there's Maternity home. I rushed to the spot. People were throwing water on it. I told them to stop doing that and instead use the sand bucket or mud from the ground, as their might be fuel as well which must be burning.
Point 1. Always know what is in fire. Of course you can pour water if your couch/paper stack is burning. But no water if your Frying pan/a fuel based substance is in fire

I immediately rushed to a resident and asked him where are the society's fire extinguisher located, he's gave me a look as if he's hearing that for 1st time. Hoping that society's office might have one, went to the office and Bingo found one. But when I operated it, it just gave a small fizz and died on me (later I found that the 'Next maintenance date' IS 18 months before
.
Point 2 & 3. Know where the fire extinguisher is kept in your society, you never know when fire strikes.
Always check that your fire extinguisher is maintained properly, especially one that is placed in your CHS, else it will just fizz out

A samartian brought a well maintained extinguisher from the hospital above, but didn't know how to operate it. It was an old model, where in we have to turn it upside down and bang in on the floor so that seal breaks. Luckily I knew that, and somehow we contained the fire in 10-15 mins and prevented it from spreading.
Point 4. Attend or watch some online fire drill classes so that you know how to operate an extinguisher if needed
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