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Old 11th August 2012, 14:20   #1
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Default What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

A part of my place recently caught fire. Luckily, we got away without any serious damage to life or property. Here’s a couple of quick tips that were shared by the Mumbai Fire Brigade. If you have any to add, please do. It could save a life.

• Remain calm! Easier said than done, but remember that anxiety clouds judgement. You need to stay level-headed to make the right decisions.

• Call the Fire Brigade immediately on their hotline number 101. Call the fire brigade even if you have doubts on whether you’ll really need them. Better to be safe than sorry. When I called the fire brigade, it seemed that the small fire was easily controllable. However, in the 10 - 15 minutes that they took to get here, things had gotten completely out of hand.

• Have everyone vacate the premises immediately (don’t wait for the situation to worsen). My entire house was emptied while conditions were still acceptable. 10 minutes later, it was impossible to breathe on the entire 3rd floor (and the 2nd floor below us). Do NOT waste time collecting your valuables. Your life is worth more than gold.

• When walking out, put a wet napkin over your nose & mouth, and that of others (especially kids, women and elders). Keep the doors UNLOCKED on your way out (how else will the fire fighters get in?).

• If the smoke is very bad, crawl on the floor. Believe me, things were much better at the floor level than when standing up.

• If opening a door to escape, first feel the door and the door handle. If it’s hot, do NOT open it. There is a good chance that the fire is on the opposite side of the door.

• Switch off the main electric supply to the building immediately. Not only might this help in limiting the spread of fire, but over 18,000 liters of water were pumped into our house by the fire brigade. You don't want power running at that time!

• If your house or office is equipped with a fire alarm button, hit it right away, so that the support crew can swing into action.

• If you are stuck in a room, block door gaps with towels so that you don't faint / die of asphyxiation. Call someone dependable and tell them of your exact location. This information will help the Fire Brigade in rescuing you.

• Do NOT ever use a lift (elevator) when getting out. Run down the stairs.

• On your way down, ask your neighbours to evacuate too.

• Remain on standby when the Fire Brigade arrives. They will need information on the property layout, where the fire started etc.

• Once you are out, take a head count. Ensure that no one is stuck inside. Let the Fire Brigade know whether there is someone trapped, and even if there isn’t (they shouldn't endanger their lives looking for, umm, nobody).

• Call for Medical support & an Ambulance in the minutest possibility of an injury.

• Move people away from the building. I had Dad sit two buildings away. The first thing that the fire brigade did was to start breaking windows (to let the smoke out). If anyone was standing in the compound, the flying glass pieces would badly injure them.

• Return ONLY once the authorities give you a green signal to.

Pre-Cautionary Measures:

• Depending on the size of the property, always keep an adequate number of fire extinguishers on standby. We had two at home but unfortunately, they weren’t enough to douse the fire.

• Have an ELCB (Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker) of the correct rating installed.

• Old wires and electrical appliances? Replace them!

• Have the entire electric circuit of your house professionally evaluated.

• Share these tips with your family

Last edited by GTO : 13th August 2012 at 15:12.
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Old 11th August 2012, 14:43   #2
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Thanks for sharing these tips GTO. Really helpful. Believe everyones safe.

There was a fire at the place I work, a couple of years back. It started due to a short circuit in the server room and fire alarms did alert people. But people were more interested in working until they felt the smoke. Everyone then rushed out. It took around 3 hours for 3 fire engines to douse the fire. Luckily no one got hurt at that time.
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Old 11th August 2012, 14:49   #3
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Great post GTO. Great to hear everyone was safe.

Were you insured for fire ? If yes, how difficult are the formalities of filing a claim?
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Old 11th August 2012, 15:27   #4
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Thanks for sharing this, a really helpful article. Good to hear that everyone is safe. Was this the fire that occurred in the Tardeo building? I heard eight fire engines had to be deployed! Last but not the least how did the fire control room respond when you called them? Do you think they were efficient at handling the call?
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Old 11th August 2012, 15:55   #5
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbhiJ View Post
Were you insured for fire ? If yes, how difficult are the formalities of filing a claim?
The damage wasn't that much, though the fire & resultant smoke would have you believe otherwise. We didn't claim insurance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Y@SH View Post
Was this the fire that occurred in the Tardeo building?
Nope.

Quote:
Last but not the least how did the fire control room respond when you called them? Do you think they were efficient at handling the call?
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.
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Old 11th August 2012, 16:20   #6
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Very useful thread. Thanks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Remain calm! Easier said than done, but remember that anxiety clouds judgement. You need to stay level-headed to make the right decisions.
Wherever we are, whether at home or at work, it's always good to plan an escape route to be taken in advance. When such an incident actually happens, many will not be able to 'think' clearly. Guess in that way an independent house is always safer than a multistory apartment. It would be better if fire safety regulations are made mandatory for the residential sector, like how they have for commercial buildings.

Last edited by Daewood : 11th August 2012 at 16:31.
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Old 11th August 2012, 19:06   #7
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Good to know that everybody is safe. Thanks for sharing.

I think few would gather the wits back so soon after such incidence to compose
such a useful post.
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Old 11th August 2012, 19:34   #8
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

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The damage wasn't that much, though the fire & resultant smoke would have you believe otherwise. We didn't claim insurance.
Often water damage is as bad as fire damage. Very glad that you did not suffer too much, and especially glad that you and your family are uninjured.

Your hints are great.

Assuming it was safe to do so, and only if safe to do so, I'd pick up my car keys and my purse. If, for instance, the fire was elsewhere in the building, and it was a precautionary evacuation, I'd pick up my backup hard disk, but I certainly would not risk any skin for it. It is not only dramatic fireballs that kill: one can be overcome by smoke or fumes almost before knowing it. Fire can kill people in their sleep.

Actually, in the night, I wouldn't even get out of the house without the keys. It is very important that such things are routinely kept where they can be found even in the dark. My wife says it is pessimistic to think about such things, but, on a regular basis, yes I do! Better a live pessimist...

Last edited by Thad E Ginathom : 11th August 2012 at 19:38.
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Old 11th August 2012, 19:59   #9
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

One of the rooms of my factory had caught fire some time back. Luckily a working fire extinguisher (5kg Ceasefire type) saved the day and there was no need to call the fire brigade. After that incident, I installed the 5 pieces at my residence cum office.

At home, the fire extinguisher should be near the kitchen and the main electric panel because they are two most vulnerable places.
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Old 11th August 2012, 20:32   #10
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Can someone let me know, where to buy a Fire Extinuisher from? I know it sounds a silly question, but I thought of buying one for the house but was clueless from where to get one. Searched online, but got nothing.

And, is there any maintenance required for the Fire Extinguishers?
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Old 11th August 2012, 21:24   #11
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Here’s a couple of quick tips that were shared by the Mumbai Fire Brigade. If you have any to add, please do. It could save a life.
Sorry to hear about the fire, but glad that you all are safe and the fire was extinguished before it could do more damage. Thanks GTO for the information shared.

Would like to add a few points.
- Keep all your important documents like passports, certificates, insurance papers, property/building documents, etc in a pouch or document holder file, and keep this in an easily accessible place somewhere in the master bed room, but not accessible to visitors or outsiders. This would make it very easy to carry with you in case of an evacuation.
- In case you use a Gas cooker, try to install the gas cylinder outside the house. (may not be possible if you live in flats) This cylinder can then be moved away from the house on fire from outside.
- Always be cautious while using multi-pin adapters, as this has a great chance of creating sparks if the plugs being used are not a 'tight fit', and starting a fire if paper or clothes are present close by. Pay particular attention to fluttering curtains near electic sockets.
- While travelling out and with no one at home for a long period of time, empty the fridge of perishables ( if possible) and switch off the mains.
- Always use branded electric equipments, especially wires ( I dont mean imported brands). These may be slightly expensive, but will avoid a lot of mishaps, and will give you 'peace of mind'
- Have an idea of what all electric equipments are in ues at home and always make it a point to switch them off at the 'plug point' after use, and particularly with mobile phone chargers - switch them off instead of just disconnecting the wire from your phone.

These are a few things which came into my mind. The list is not exhaustive.

And, God forbid, in case you have a fire at home and get it extinguished successfully, always investigate as into the cause of the fire, try to rectify it so that you do not get into the same situation again.
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Old 11th August 2012, 22:59   #12
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

Glad to know that there is next to NO damage ( of life or property ).

Apart from what you have written, a few things:

1) Oil paint. If you have oil paints, do not touch the wall as you can get more burns.

2) Get the building structure checked once again. Damage any repaired section. It might be that the plaster needs to be done once again after some peel off from damaged section.

3) Furniture. Inspect all furniture after the case of fire. Dont just start using them. There might be damage in areas which are not visible.

4) Dont try to douse a fire if you dont know how it got started ( applicable only for source of Fire ). If one tires to douse out a fire which started by oil ( lets say in kitchen with edible oil ), trying to pour water wont help. On the other hand, it can make the matter worse.

5) Escape to terrace option : In case you cant run down the stairs, for example : fire on 5th floor and you cant go down from your 6th floor, then head for terrace. While doing so, take bedsheets, blankets, pillows with you if time permits. If your floor below terrace catches fire, the roof will become super hot and you just cant stand. One also has to execute terrace option if he/she is an asthma patient.

6) Might seem silly, but unless things are really out of hand and if a few moments are there, wear some footwear. If you are not wearing any footwear, you cannot pass from hot floor, etc. and eventually get injured so much so that you just can go any further.

Last edited by aaggoswami : 11th August 2012 at 23:06.
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Old 12th August 2012, 13:21   #13
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Thanks for sharing these life saving tips GTO, and I am glad that you all escaped it quite well and early.

Along with switching off the mains electricity supply, If it is safe, one should close the knob of the LPG gas cylinder before vacating the house. The fire surrounding the gas hose/pipe may melt the rubber, resulting in massive gas fire. If the regulator is closed, it would stop the gas supply into the hose and would withstand the heat for sometime and prevent fire.

Also, if the house is equipped with Residential LPG pipeline system/Reticulated LPG Systems, one should close the main valve/knob located just before the consumption meter before vacating.

Last edited by Blow Horn Ok : 12th August 2012 at 13:23.
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Old 12th August 2012, 15:43   #14
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Default Re: What to do if your House / Office catches FIRE

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.
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Old 12th August 2012, 16:26   #15
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Great thread GTO.

I would like to share an incident too that happened at my Apartments 4 years back. There is a change over unit in our Society on the ground floor of all buildings to change over the supply from Mains to the back up DG and vice versa in case of power failures.

Once during a Power outage, the unit on our building caught fire due to some overload. It was pretty intense and thick dense smoke around. Not to speak of the darkness due to power outage.Luckily I am trained in fire fighting techinques and was around that day. I rushed to the scene. Luckily there are enough fire extinguishers around in our society and I quickly located a CO2 extinguisher and used it to try and control the fire. In the meantime I asked others gathered around to get more CO2 extinguishers from other floors in case one is not sufficient.

Except for one no one else got a CO2 extinguisher and every one else got a water based one. Luckily the fire was under control pretty soon and one more extinguisher was enough. But the idea of me putting this post is, "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."


A small action at the right time can avoid a big catastrophe later

FIRE- Find, Inform, Restrict and Extinguish is the mantra.

Find the fire, Inform others as in raising an alarm, Restrict (only if possible, dont be a hero) by either cutting off the medium burning or atleast preventing further damage (like switch off the mains imediately to prevent further ignitions due to any short circuit, shutting down gas pipes etc), extinguish (using appropriate extinguishers again considering your own safety and the means at hand).
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