Stringent fire prevention code for high-rise buildings, says official

Stringent fire prevention code for high-rise buildings, says official

Monday, November 12, 2018

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High-rise buildings being constructed in Jamaica must meet stringent international fire prevention codes, a senior firefighter has told the Jamaica Observer.

According to Assistant Superintendent Howard Thomas, officer in charge of the Kingston and St Andrew Fire Prevention Division, construction of high-rise buildings are also guided by the National Building Code of Jamaica and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) of Jamaica handbook.

Thomas was responding to questions from the Observer after he appeared at a recent Parish Disaster and Public Health Committee meeting of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation.

Councillor Dennis Gordon (People's National Party, Maxfield Division) had asked Thomas if the fire department carried out inspections when buildings were being constructed.

Thomas told the Observer that the buildings are inspected “at site layout, floor layout, during the testing of the fire protection systems and on completion of the furniture layout”.

He said that before fire certification can be obtained the building must also undergo inspection in the presence of an architect and fire engineer.

Thomas said that under NFPA 285 Standards for Fire Prevention, plywood, timber, and combustible boards cannot be used for interior partitions in high-rise buildings. Partition walls, he advised, must be built from sheet rack drywall or concrete boards.

“In case of a fire, the partition materials must be able to withstand the fire for at least one hour,” he said.

The NFPA 101B code speaks to the prevention of smoke entering the stairwell of a building in case of a fire.

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