How can we prepare the buildings for evacuations to be carried out in 2020 and beyond? Yılmaz Özcan

Yılmaz Özcan

Eaton Electric  Country Manager for Turkey

The main target in the evacuation of any building protects people. Although the nature of the threats against people in the building has changed, the security practices in old buildings are still the same, and there have been some documented cases of building evacuations that have not been done according to the plan in the past years, leading to tragic consequences.

A recent study on this issue reveals that more than 70% of the people in the building do not notice traditional exit signs. Therefore, building owners or managers need to consider many factors that will ensure the safest evacuation of commercial and residential buildings for which they are responsible.

Eaton_pic2Diversification of Risk

In modern times, commercial buildings should be prepared not only against fire, but also against new threats such as terrorism, civil unrest and severe weather. This preparation requires the evacuation of commercial buildings that could be affected by these threats to be more strictly planned than necessary in the past.

Evacuation process; it is even more difficult for large buildings with large residential areas or buildings with a large number of people unfamiliar with escape routes and procedures. Some buildings are more affected than other buildings during an emergency, especially if they have a higher risk of being targeted by terrorists or equipped with old products and installations.

Eaton_pic1Such features may require more advanced evacuation procedures and technologies. In addition to research on the behavior of the crowd during emergencies, studies on exemplary cases have identified the extent of progress that can be made in managing evacuations.

One of the most important findings is that static directional signs are not noticed or behaved according to these signs. The research revealed that only 38% of people in the building did not recognize the environment, noticing the traditional exit signs during the default emergencies. Traditional exit signs are not able to orient or adjust directions according to changing conditions or real-time hazards such as closed exit routes. This is an important weakness, given the various threats faced by complex buildings and the real-time spread of these threats.

Technology Is Very Important For All New And Old Buildings

Whether the nature of the risk in modern buildings is commercial or residential (where many or few residents) are concerned; it inevitably changes. Fortunately, the technology has advanced and thanks to this fire prevention devices and adaptive evacuation methods mitigate negative consequences or eliminate risks altogether.

According to the latest figures announced, 25% of all fires that occur every year in Europe are caused by electrical failures, so it is encouraging to know that arc fault detection devices (AFDD) can be used to deal with the hidden threat posed by micro-radiation, which can be caused by damage to wires. This is an example of modern innovation that prevents fire from starting and eliminates the need for the evacuation scenario.

In order to facilitate the detection of visual escape routes and to provide greater flexibility in directing the people in the building, new routing system shapes are introduced for the problems caused by static signs. Adaptive exit lighting and dynamic exit signs direct people in the building to an alternative exit point. Adaptive systems ensure that exit routes are constantly changed in accordance with the location and nature of the hazard.

With these preventive or sensitive practices, it would have been possible to protect or better manage many cases reported in the past few years. When it comes to the security of buildings, even though there is no single solution that fits any condition, these new technologies complement practices in traditional evacuation, ensuring that people are protected against the various threats we face today, both in old and new buildings.

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