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Changing Building Hazards
2 Sept. 2020

John Herbert, hong kong energy saving expert, BEAM expert
John Herbert

Be aware of the hazards and riskd evolving inside your building

Society is changing leaving our buildings in the dark ages, and standards, which are always retrospective have yet to catch up. We live within an evolving age, for example, the desire for improvement means that modern vehicles contain more plastics, foam, composites, and even Lithium battery cells, than ever before.

In Liverpool, UK, a single-vehicle fire started in the Kings Dock multi-storey car park [BBC report] eventually destroying around 1,300 vehicles in the building, the fire brigade commented that the plastics, foam, and plastic fuel tanks used in modern vehicles contributed to the fire and loss of the entire building. And it is not an isolated incident, a french study noted that losses from fires occurring car parks in recent years are increasing, also the New Civil Engineer magazine laments that the lessons from the King Dock fire still have not been learned.

Electric Vehicles

In addition to the plastic issue, the environmental agenda is driving wider adoption of Electric Vehicles (EV) consider a modern car park may house 100 or more electric vehicles with Lithium cells under one roof, a high density never before considered, risking a serious and difficult to handle fire.

electric vehicle charger, EV charger, kelcroft, Hong Kong

Melting PVC Cable

During a fire PVC conduit, PVC insulated electrical cabling without metal support [ ] allows cables to sag (also called premature collapse) possibly entangling and trapping firefighters who are work in complete darkness.

Cavity Wall Fire Barriers

In the event of a fire in a building with cavity walls, cavity fire barriers should be provided around openings to prevent the rapid and hidden spread of fire and smoke inside the cavity. However, the lessons of past failures have not been learned, with modern buildings still erected without cavity barriers.

cavity fire barriers missing, kelcroft, Hong Kong

Electrical Interference

The exponential growth of mobile devices, smart devices, and USB powered devices has been staggering, hardly a home or office does not have some type of mobile device. Yet these devices use Direct Current (DC) and we know that DC interferes with the operation of electrical safety devices, in turn increasing the risk of a building fire.

Looking Forward

This raises a key question, are existing buildings really safe? What hazards present today that have changed in your building?

About the Author

John Herbert is a veteran chief engineer with more than 30 years international engineering experience, educated in the United Kingdom, he has worked in the United Kingdom and then across Asia for more than two decades engaged by international and local companies. He is a Hong Kong Registered Energy Assessor (REA), a BEAM Professional, and stationed in Hong Kong.


tags: fire risk, changing building risk, electric vehicles, EV, hazard, buildings

date: 02-03-21
kelcroft consultants hong kong