regulations & standards
2015-04-20: After a lengthy, constructive and very interesting discussion which resulted in some important text revisions … on Friday afternoon, 10 April 2015, at the ‘Fire Safety for All’ Conference (www.fire-safety-for-all.ie) … all participants voted to adopt, support and promote the Dublin Declaration on ‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings !
With regard to International Distribution and Promotion of the Declaration … many readers of this Technical Blog belong to varied professional, social and business networks. I would earnestly ask you to circulate the Declaration widely within those networks, and to actively seek the support of as many organizations and individuals as possible. This support should be confirmed by means of a simple e-mail message to: email@example.com … and I will then add the names of supporters to the Fire Safety for All WebSite (www.fire-safety-for-all.ie). Copies of the Declaration, in PDF Format, can also be downloaded from the WebSite.
This Benchmark Declaration … an essential new reference document for all stakeholders and interested parties … draws a long-awaited, broad, distinct and stable line in the shifting sands of a rapidly evolving Sustainable Built Environment …
- As of April 2015, over 150 Countries and the European Union have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Since the Convention became an international legal instrument during 2008, however, the CRPD Preamble’s Paragraphs (g) and (v) have tended to receive insufficient public attention and scrutiny. The Dublin Declaration on ‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings and the CIB W14 Research Working Group 5’s Reflection Document have been drafted with these two paragraphs very much in mind.
- Although a situation of serious risk for vulnerable building users … it is not appropriate to deal with ‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings under Article 11 of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) … where situations of grave risk are handled, e.g. Extreme Man-Made Events, Hybrid Disasters, Severe Natural Events, Complex Humanitarian Emergencies … all amid Accelerating Climate Change & Variability.
- It is more appropriate, particularly since the publication of International Standard ISO 21542 (2011) with its expanded definition of Building Accessibility, that ‘Fire Safety for All’ be incorporated into Article 9 of the CRPD … in exactly the same manner that fire safety is fully integrated into everyday mainstream building use, and mainstream building fire safety codes and standards. An improved and updated definition of Building Accessibility is contained in Principle 3 of the Dublin Declaration.
- Existing approaches to Fire Safety, Protection & Evacuation in Buildings for People with Activity Limitations … as described and illustrated in the notable examples of British Standard B.S. 9999 (2008), Singapore’s FSR 7 (2011), and Hong Kong’s Fire Safety Code Addendum (2014) … are technically inadequate, tokenistic, discriminatory, create barriers to social participation, and violate human rights. Therefore, any further use or recourse to such existing approaches must be terminated immediately !
DUBLIN DECLARATION ON ‘FIRE SAFETY FOR ALL’ IN BUILDINGS
A Call to Action and Successful Implementation !
(Adopted in Dublin, 2015-04-10)
Meeting In Dublin, Ireland … on Thursday and Friday, 9 and 10 April, 2015 …
In Co-Operation With the International Council for Research & Innovation in Building & Construction (CIB), Rehabilitation International’s International Commission on Technology & Accessibility (RI-ICTA), the Global Alliance for Accessible Technologies & EnvironmentS (GAATES), and the EUropean Concept for Accessibility Network (EuCAN) ;
Recognizing the integral and interdependent nature of the natural and human environments (social, built, virtual, economic and institutional) on this small planet Earth, our common home … and the need for harmonized principles to inspire and guide the peoples of the World in the enhancement of a human environment which cherishes the dignity, worth and many abilities of every person ;
Whereas in the United Nations Charter, the U.N. Member States pledged their respect for, and the protection and observance of, fundamental human and social rights … and have determined to promote social development and better standards of living for all ;
Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted on 10th December 1948 … which established a global framework of human and social rights – basic needs and protections – and fundamental freedoms for every person and communal gathering ;
Recalling Also the Rio de Janeiro Declaration on Sustainable Social Development, Disability & Ageing, adopted on 11th December 2004 … which stressed the importance of the social aspects in Sustainable Human & Social Development ;
Mindful Especially of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted on 13th December 2006 … the principal aim of which is to ensure that the human environment is sufficiently accessible to permit a vulnerable and major population group in all communities to safely exercise and enjoy the human and social rights and fundamental freedoms described in the 1948 UDHR ;
Working Towards the achievement of justice, equality of opportunity, social inclusion, active participation and development for every person with an activity limitation in all communities … and recognizing that accessibility of the human environment is an essential prerequisite for the above, and that fire safety for all is a critical life safety component of that accessibility ;
Aware Always of the universal reality that there is still a strong social stigma associated with disability and, particularly, mental ill-health … that much of the human environment is not accessible for all, and even where it is robustly mandated in law, the quality of that accessibility is poor … and that fire safety guidelines for people with activity limitations in buildings, if they exist, are inadequate and/or tokenistic, and rarely implemented ;
Welcoming the launch of the CIB Working Commission 14: Fire Safety – Research Working Group 5’s Reflection Document: Buildings & ‘Fire Incident Human Behaviour and Abilities’ which presents a practical examination and general overview of fire safety for all …
Addressed to every Country and the European Union – those many Voluntary Parties to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – and the Politicians, Authorities Having Jurisdiction, State Agencies, Professional Bodies & Institutions, Non-Governmental Organizations, Charitable & Private Organizations, etc., based within those separate jurisdictions:
We Declare That The Following Principles Must …
Be carefully studied, successfully implemented, and independently monitored … supported by Benchmarking, reliable Data and Statistics, and the informed use of pertinent Accessibility & Fire Safety Related Performance Indicators …
Principle 1 – A Human Right
Full and effective accessibility of the Human Environment (social, built, virtual, economic and institutional) is a fundamental human and social right, i.e. a basic need, for people with activity limitations – it is an essential prerequisite for the safe exercise and enjoyment of those rights, protections and freedoms set down in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent international rights instruments … and crucially, for their health, participation, inclusion and development in all communities.
Principle 2 – Successful Implementation
Successful accessibility implementation … meaning high quality accessibility performance in the built environment … is reliant upon:
- A robust legal base mandating accessibility for all and fire safety for all ;
- Determined political will ;
- Sufficient public financial resources ;
- A compassionate and understanding bureaucracy at all levels ;
- Competent … meaning duly educated, trained and experienced in accessibility and fire safety design … spatial planners, architects, structural engineers, fire engineers, quantity surveyors, technical controllers, industrial designers, building managers, and people at all levels in construction organizations ;
- Independent monitoring of accessibility and fire safety performance ;
- Innovative, well-designed accessibility and fire safety related products and systems which can be shown to be ‘fit for their intended use’.
Principle 3 – Building Accessibility
Accessibility of a Building encompasses the complete cycle of independent use, in a dignified manner and on an equal basis with others … and includes the approach, entry and use of a building and its facilities, egress during normal conditions and removal from its vicinity … and, most importantly, safe evacuation during a fire incident to a place of safety which is remote from the building and reached by way of an accessible route.
Principle 4 – Design for Safe Evacuation
Accessibility design criteria must be infused into all of the practical, day-to-day work of building designers and, especially, in the development of project-specific fire engineering design objectives … and be applied from the initial stages of building design, through to the construction and reliable life cycle operation of vertical and horizontal fire evacuation routes facilitating contraflow, areas of rescue assistance, fire safety related signage, controls and fittings, fire prevention and protection measures, fire safety management procedures, routes to and locations of places of safety, etc., etc.
• Evacuation way finding in buildings must be intuitive and obvious ;
• 3 Keywords for building designers must be: reality – reliability – redundancy.
Principle 5 – Accessible EICT’s
Electronic, information and communication technologies are ubiquitous in today’s complex built and virtual environments. During a real fire incident in a building, they serve a function which is critical for the safety of all building users and firefighters, property protection, minimizing environmental damage and harm, and sustainability. For that reason, they must have a control and/or user interface which is accessible for all.
Principle 6 – Fire Safety Skills
People with activity limitations who occupy or use a building frequently must be included in all practice fire evacuations, in order to learn the skill of safe independent evacuation to an accessible place of safety remote from the building. During a real fire incident, evacuation assistance provided by other building users or rescue by firefighters, and the time spent waiting for that assistance or rescue in the building must be kept to an absolute minimum.
People with activity limitations must be actively encouraged to participate in fire safety preparatory planning and regular practices … and, without exception, must be consulted and included in all activities concerning their own evacuation from a building.
Management systems and fire protection measures in buildings are never 100% reliable. People with activity limitations must, therefore, be actively encouraged to be self-aware in situations of risk, and facilitated in learning the skill of self-protection.
Principle 7 – Reasonable Spatial Provision
Reasonable spatial provision must be allocated in a building for the needs of real users, who vary in the range of their individual behaviour and abilities … and for the real building user population profile which, avoiding discrimination, must reflect a society as a whole. Concerning fire safety for all and the necessary size, for example, of an area of rescue assistance which adjoins a fire evacuation staircase on every floor in a building … the following indicators, exclusive of extra provision for assistants, must guide the architect and fire engineer in the collaborative design process:
(a) Minimum reasonable provision for people with disabilities in a building – 10% of design occupant/user population ;
(b) Minimum reasonable provision for people with activity limitations in a building … 15% of design occupant/user population.
Principle 8 – Building Management
Building managers must ensure that fire safety for all preparatory planning is effective, and that practices are held regularly … before any real fire incident occurs. And as part of their normal, day-to-day functioning … managers must be fully aware that, without due attention to accessibility-related services, product maintenance and occupant/user welfare policies, the quality of accessibility in a building will rapidly deteriorate.
Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPS) must not be used to limit or restrict access to any part of a building and its facilities.
Principle 9 – Firefighters
Firefighters must be trained to interact with and rescue people with activity limitations from buildings, using procedures and equipment which will not cause injury to either. Fire services must ensure that they operate such procedures and possess such regularly serviced equipment.
Emergency service organizations must operate reliable systems to notify the fire services of emergency situations, which are accessible for all and useable by the public at all times.
APPENDIX – Terms & Definitions
Area of Rescue Assistance: A sufficiently large building space directly adjoining, and visible from, a main vertical evacuation route – robustly and reliably protected from heat, smoke and flame during and after a fire – where people may temporarily wait with confidence for further information, instructions, and evacuation assistance or rescue, without obstructing or interfering with the evacuation travel of other building users.
Contraflow Circulation in a Fire Building: Emergency access by firefighters or rescue teams into a building and towards a real fire … while building users are still moving away from the fire and evacuating the building.
Evacuation from a Fire Building: To withdraw, or cause to withdraw, all users from a building which is on fire … in pre-planned and orderly phased movements to an accessible place of safety remote from the building.
Fire Compartmentation: The division of a building into fire-tight compartments by fire, smoke and heat resisting elements of construction, in order to …
a) contain an outbreak of fire, including any smoke and heat generated by the fire ;
b) prevent damage, within the building, to other adjoining compartments and spaces ;
c) protect a compartment interior from external fire attack, e.g. fire spread across the building’s facade or from an adjacent building ;
d) minimize adverse, or harmful, environmental impacts outside the building.
Human Health: A state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
People with Activity Limitations (E) / Personnes à Performances Réduites (F): Those people, of all ages, who are unable to perform, independently and without aid, basic human activities or tasks – because of a health condition or physical / mental / cognitive / psychological impairment of a permanent or temporary nature.
The above Term includes …
- wheelchair users ;
- people who experience difficulty in walking, with or without a facilitation aid, e.g. stick, crutch, calliper or walking frame ;
- frail, older people ;
- the very young (people under the age of 5 years) ;
- people who suffer from arthritis, asthma, or a heart condition ;
- the visually and/or hearing impaired ;
- people who have a cognitive impairment disorder, including dementia, amnesia, brain injury, or delirium ;
- women in the later stages of pregnancy ;
- people impaired following the use of alcohol, other ‘social’ drugs e.g. cocaine and heroin, and some medicines ;
- people who suffer any partial or complete loss of language related abilities, i.e. aphasia ;
- people impaired following exposure to environmental pollution and/or other irresponsible human activities, e.g. war and terrorism ;
- people who experience a panic attack in a real fire situation or other emergency ;
- people, including firefighters, who suffer incapacitation as a result of exposure, during a real fire, to smoke and poisonous or toxic substances, and/or elevated temperatures.
Place of Safety:
• Any accessible location beyond a perimeter which is  metres from the fire building or a distance of  times the height of such building, whichever is the greater ; and
• Where necessary triage can safely be rendered … and from where effective medical care and supervision can be organized and provided within one hour of injury (the ‘golden hour’) ; and
• Where people can be identified.
Note: If there is a risk of an explosion associated with a fire – multiply the numbers in square brackets above by 4.
Progressive Damage in Fire / Fire-Induced Progressive Damage: The sequential growth and intensification of structural deformation and displacement, beyond fire engineering design parameters, and the eventual failure of elements of construction in a building – during a fire and the ‘cooling phase’ afterwards – which, if unchecked, will result in disproportionate damage, and may lead to total building collapse.
Note: Fire-induced progressive damage may commence long before there is any breach in the integrity of a fire compartment’s boundaries.
Real Fire: A fire which develops in a building and is influenced by such factors as the type of building and its occupancy (numbers, abilities and activities) ; the combustible content (fire load) ; the ventilation, geometry and thermal properties of the fire compartment or building space (should no fire compartmentation exist) ; the fire suppression systems in the building, and the actions of firefighters.
Skill: The ability of a person – resulting from proper training and regular practice – to carry out complex, well-organized patterns of behaviour efficiently and adaptively, in order to achieve some end or goal.
Social Environment: The complex network of real and virtual human interaction – at a communal or larger group level – which operates for reasons of tradition, culture, business, pleasure, information exchange, institutional organization, legal procedure, governance, human betterment, social progress and spiritual enlightenment, etc.
Social Rights: Rights to which an individual person is legally entitled, e.g. the right to free elementary education (Art.26(1), UDHR), but which are only exercised in a social context with other people, and with the active support of a competent legal authority, e.g. a Nation State.
Social Wellbeing: A general condition – in a community, society or culture – of health, happiness, creativity, responsible fulfilment, and sustainable development.
Virtual Environment: A designed environment, electronically generated from within the built environment, which may have the appearance, form, functionality and impact – to the person perceiving and actually experiencing it – of a real, imagined and/or utopian world.
2015-02-02: This is NOT … I repeat NOT … a small niche market in the Global Multi-Billion Euro Fire Safety & Protection Related Construction Industrial Sector ! This IS the whole nine yards !!
This is an Open Call for Innovative, Well-Designed Fire Safety / Protection and Accessibility Related Construction Products and Systems, Other Measures and Means, Mechanical and Electronic Devices, ETC, ETC, ETC, ETC !
This Call is particularly aimed at Manufacturers, Suppliers and Distributors in China, India, Japan, and Mainland Europe !
We want to see ‘Real’ Products and Systems, Measures and Means, Mechanical and Electronic Devices, ETC, ETC, ETC, ETC … not flashy brochures … at the 2015 Dublin ‘Fire Safety for All’ Industrial Exhibition, on 9 & 10 April !
An Accessible Building is Safer, Easier to Use and More Comfortable for ALL Building Users
If Fire Safety for All is properly considered at Building Design Stage :
• Buildings are easier to understand (intuitive) during a Real Fire Evacuation
• Fire Evacuation Routes (obvious) are easier to find and to use
• Everyone can safely evacuate a Building on Fire – no more tragic tales about people being left behind in multi-storey schools and offices
• Reality – Reliability – Redundancy – are the 3 Essential Keywords
Client Organizations: A Building which is NOT Accessible is difficult, if not impossible, for everybody to evacuate during a real fire incident !
Grab a Bicycle – Get a Horse – Take a Train or a Plane – Come to Dublin in April !
To Exhibit / To Sponsor … please go to the Event WebSite: www.fire-safety-for-all.ie
2015-02-01: This important Event is still a few months away, but the following update will be of interest …. a mixture of some good news and some bad news …
To Register / To Attend … please go to the Event WebSite: www.fire-safety-for-all.ie … places are limited in the New Conference Venue.
1. 2015 Dublin ‘Fire Safety for All’ Declaration – A Call to Action & Successful Implementation !
From the beginning, we promised that this would not be a polite gathering in Dublin. It will, instead, be a time for hard work and straight talking by everybody attending … and a good opportunity to have some fun also. Dublin is a very ‘sociable’ city !
As an indication of our serious intent … please now download and examine the Proposed 2015 Dublin Declaration on ‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings (PDF File, 153 Kb) …
If you would like to comment on this document, or if you have any questions … please send an e-mail message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Drafting of the CIB W14 Research Working Group V Reflection Document has already commenced.
2. Dublin Fire Safety for All Event’s First Press Release
A strong message from and about the Dublin Event must be widely disseminated at international and national levels … download and read / forward / circulate / publish FireOx International’s First Event Press Release (PDF File, 49 Kb), dated 1 February 2015 …
Please help us to spread the word !
3. Embarrassment about Original Conference Venue
Accessibility of a Building … encompasses the complete cycle of independent use, in a dignified manner and on an equal basis with others … and includes the approach, entry and use of a building and its facilities, egress during normal conditions and removal from its vicinity … and, most importantly, safe evacuation during a fire incident to a place of safety which is remote from the building and reached by way of an accessible route.
As I write … Ireland has a truck load of accessibility-related National Building Regulations and EU Safety at Work Law (transposed at national level a long, long time ago). We have strong Equality Law. We have ease of access to accessibility-related International Standards (such as ISO 21542: 2011) and National Standards from other European Countries, North & South America, and Asia. We have accessibility-related National Guidance Documents coming out of our ears, and easy access to all sorts of other guidance from around the world. Lots and lots and lots and lots of paperwork, in digital and hardcopy formats !
Ireland today … is still one of only a few remaining countries which have yet to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the principal aim of which is to ensure that the Human Environment (including the built, social, economic, virtual and institutional environments) is sufficiently accessible for people with activity limitations to participate positively in all aspects of their local communities … a basic human right, which every able-bodied person takes for granted !
” This is not just a national disgrace, it is a huge embarrassment for our country when you consider that the European Union itself and most of the EU’s Member States have already ratified this UN Convention.”
AND … as I look around Dublin … the City is NOT accessible for its many vulnerable residents and foreign visitors !
Are you sitting comfortably ? Then I will tell you a short story … a ‘real’ story, not a fairy tale … about the Original Conference Venue …
Mr. Sean Sherlock, T.D., Minister of State at Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Overseas Development Aid, has agreed to open the Event on the evening of Thursday, 9 April 2015. All of Irish Aid’s Partner Countries in Africa have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Given the serious, socially transformative topic of this Conference … the Minister had also kindly offered to waive the fee for the hire of the Printworks Building in Dublin Castle – a very prestigious location in the City, and a building which was been extensively refurbished in time for Ireland’s recent Presidency of the European Union. The audio-visual fit-out for this building is magnificently elaborate. Most unfortunately, the building’s accessibility is entirely inadequate (ATROCIOUS would be a better word to describe it!).
However, with the right attitude and positive co-operation from the Venue Management Team, many improvements to the building’s accessibility could have been made for the Conference. From the beginning, however, the Management Team’s response to this issue was negative.
” It is entirely unacceptable that this State’s New and Heritage Building Stock is designed, constructed, and/or managed without a full and proper consideration … and successful implementation … of Accessibility for All and Fire Safety for All ! “
The Venue Management Team has refused to honour the Minister’s waiver.
We have had no other option but to move the Conference and Workshop to a far better Venue just around the corner … the Radisson Blu Hotel in Golden Lane, Dublin.
A Building which is NOT Accessible is difficult, if not impossible, for everybody to evacuate during a real fire incident …
‘Rigorous enforcement of building codes and standards by state and local agencies, well trained and managed, is critical in order for standards and codes to ensure the expected level of safety. Unless they are complied with, the best codes and standards cannot protect occupants, emergency responders, or buildings.’
(2005 U.S. NIST NCSTAR 1: Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers … Page 202, Chapter 9: Recommendations)
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
UN CRPD Article 33 – National Implementation & Monitoring
1. States Parties, in accordance with their system of organization, shall designate one or more focal points within government for matters relating to the implementation of the present Convention, and shall give due consideration to the establishment or designation of a co-ordination mechanism within government to facilitate related action in different sectors and at different levels.
2. States Parties shall, in accordance with their legal and administrative systems, maintain, strengthen, designate or establish within the State Party, a framework, including one or more independent mechanisms, as appropriate, to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the present Convention. When designating or establishing such a mechanism, States Parties shall take into account the principles relating to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights.
3. Civil society, in particular persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, shall be involved and participate fully in the monitoring process.
2015-01-31: The beginning of this 21st Century is deeply unsettling … history is catching up on us, and old certainties are crumbling before our eyes …
The recent, extremely violent Paris Hive Attacks … which occurred between Wednesday and Friday (7-9 January 2015) … have again shown that co-ordinated attacks on a small number of carefully chosen, low-level targets can be just as effective in causing widespread social and economic disruption in a City as a single attack on a high-level target. Search for our previous detailed discussion, here, on the 2008 Mumbai ‘Hive’ Attacks.
On this tragic occasion, the attacks happened in Europe … not, as before, in far-off India.
Following the 2001 WTC 9-11 Attacks in New York City … the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in 2005 and 2008, recommended that these Building Types should be treated as ‘Risk Priorities’ …
• Tall / High-Rise Buildings ;
• Iconic Buildings ;
• Buildings Having a Critical Function ;
• Buildings Having an Innovative Design.
However, a typical medium-rise office building (in Paris) and off-street supermarket do not fall into the above categories … another indication that the NIST Recommendations must soon undergo a thorough international review and updating.
In the real world, the whole urban and sub-urban infrastructure of a City is at risk from Extreme Man-Made Events … one more risk among significant others, i.e. Hybrid Disasters (e.g. 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Incident), Severe Natural Events (e.g. earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis) and Complex Humanitarian Emergencies (e.g. mass human migrations, regional famines). And with 50% of the world’s population already living in Cities, and substantial urban population growth projected over the coming decades … it is clear that, in the short to medium term, Cities must become much more resilient. Search for our continuing discussion, here, about Sustainable Urban Resilience.
In this context, compliance solely with the minimal and limited fire safety objectives in current national legislation – from whatever source around the world – is so far from being either adequate or acceptable … that it is no longer worth a moment’s consideration.
A Fire Engineering which is ‘fit for purpose’, i.e. is both ethical and professional, in today’s complex and dynamic Human Environment … has an essential and critical part to play in the realization of a Safe, Resilient and Sustainable Built Environment for All !
2014-12-09: FireOx International, the Fire Engineering Division of Sustainable Design International Ltd., is very pleased and proud to present the following Global CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Event …
‘Fire Safety for All’ in Buildings – Reboot & Reload !
[ www.fire-safety-for-all.ie ]
Co-Sponsored by CIB & RI-ICTA
Kindly supported by Fáilte Ireland
This will not be a polite gathering intended just for an Irish audience, or even for Europeans … this is a Global Event – a catalyst for Substantive Social Transformation everywhere !
Within the professional discipline of Fire Engineering … either a building is Fire Safe or it is not ; the design philosophy of the fire engineer is irrelevant. Similarly, now, we must begin to think and act in the simple terms of a building either being Accessible for All, or not. And if the building is accessible for all, does it tick all of the right accessibility boxes well, i.e. effectively ?
While building fire safety codes and standards exist in almost every country … guidelines relating to the Fire Safety of People with Activity Limitations – IF those guidelines exist at all – are technically inadequate, entirely tokenistic, blatantly discriminatory, and rarely implemented.
This is a very significant obstacle to Effective Building Accessibility everywhere !!
Accessibility is now understood to mean the full cycle of independent building use, in an equitable and dignified manner … and this term includes the approach, entry to and use of a building, egress during normal conditions and removal from the vicinity of the building … and, most importantly, evacuation during a fire incident to a ‘place of safety’ which is remote from the building. (ISO 21542 : 2011)
Cogently mandated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) … the CRPD’s principal aim is to ensure that the Built, Social, Economic and Virtual Environments are sufficiently ‘accessible’ to permit a vulnerable and major(!) population group in all of our societies to enjoy the fundamental freedoms and human rights described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
Refer to Preamble Paragraph (g) in the UN Convention …
‘ Emphasizing the importance of mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies of sustainable development,’
and to … Article 3 (General Principles), Article 9 (Accessibility), Article 11 (Situations of Risk & Humanitarian Emergencies), Article 19 (Living Independently & Being Included in the Community), Article 20 (Personal Mobility), Article 24 (Education), Article 27 (Work & Employment), Article 31 (Statistics & Data Collection), Article 32 (International Co-Operation), and Article 33 (National Implementation & Monitoring).
The focus of this event, therefore, is Real Accessibility. In other words, Effective Accessibility for People with Activity Limitations (which includes people with disabilities, and children under the age of 5 years, frail older people, women in the later stages of pregnancy, and people with health conditions, etc.) … an accessibility which actually works well for all potential building users. And it is appropriate also, now, to introduce the concept of Monitoring and Targeting this ‘real’ accessibility … independently, i.e. by 3rd Parties !
It is time to Reboot this ridiculous, professionally negligent and obsolete old system … Reload with innovative and practical building design, construction, management and personal self-protection solutions … and Implement !
2014-11-05: ISO TC 92: ‘Fire Safety’ is a long-established Technical Committee within the International Standards Organization (ISO) … www.iso.org/iso/home/standards_development/list_of_iso_technical_committees/iso_technical_committee.htm?commid=50492 … and down through the many years of its existence, since 1958, it has laboriously constructed a robust foundation which has facilitated the modern evolution of Fire Science and Engineering and the development of many standard fire safety practices and procedures around the world.
BUT … and in spite the existence of ISO/IEC Guide 71: ‘Guidelines for Standards Developers to Address the Needs of Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities’ (a weak document which is badly in need of revision and updating !) …
Recently, having examined some draft standards being processed through ISO TC 92 … I have become very tired of the blatant incompetence … and lack of care and concern merging with feigned ignorance and/or stubborn resistance, within the Technical Committee, when it comes to the issue of ‘disability’ … in other words, the major matter of the real fire safety of vulnerable building users and occupants, i.e. people with activity limitations, in real buildings.
SO … a few days ago, I wrote the following e-mail message to a Working Group Chairperson (who shall remain nameless, because this same problem pervades the whole TC) …
With regard to All Aspects of the WG’s Work … one issue, in particular, sticks out like a sore thumb … how you treat ‘disability’. There is no clarity here, only confusion. There are no precise terms, only a garbled use of language and concepts.
Please allow me to suggest, with accompanying explanations, a suitable and necessary path forward.
I will circulate this e-mail message separately within ISO, and beyond.
Concerning Normative References … reference must be made to …
ISO 21542 (2011): ‘Building Construction – Accessibility & Usability of the Built Environment’
Within this document, Accessibility is understood to mean the full cycle of independent building use, in an equitable and dignified manner … and to include the approach, entry to and use of a building, egress during normal conditions and removal from the vicinity of the building … and, most importantly, evacuation during a fire incident to a ‘place of safety’ which is remote from the building.
Texts relating to ‘fire safety’ have been incorporated into the main body of this International Standard. It is, however, just a small beginning. Much work remains to be done.
Accessibility Design Criteria, as described in ISO 21542, must now be applied to the design and maintenance of all fire evacuation routes, fire safety related signage and fittings, etc., etc.
Use of the word escape, in any context, is strongly discouraged.
Concerning Terms & Definitions …
People with Activity Limitations: Those people, of all ages, who are unable to perform, independently and without aid, basic human activities or tasks – because of a health condition or physical/mental/cognitive/psychological impairment of a permanent or temporary nature.
Attached, please find the FireOx International ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix … which illustrates how the separate pieces, including ‘disability’, fit together.
Contraflow: Emergency access by firefighters or rescue teams into a building and towards a fire, while people are still moving away from the fire and evacuating the building.
Concerning Building User/Occupant Numbers & Provision … ‘token’ is not only entirely unacceptable, it is a clear case of professional negligence …
And why, suddenly, all of these ‘musts’ ??
Cogently mandated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) … the UN CRPD’s principal aim is to ensure that the Built, Social, Economic and Virtual Environments are sufficiently ‘accessible’ to permit a vulnerable and major population group in all of our societies to enjoy the fundamental freedoms and human rights set down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
The language of the Convention is always very robust and very direct: ‘States Parties shall …’
Also attached, please find a United Nations Global Map showing the status of Convention Ratification back in July 2014. At the time of writing this e-mail message, 151 Countries have ratified the UN CRPD.
Full and Effective Accessibility of the Built Environment is a human right. Adequate provision must be made for people with disabilities to use all buildings … not just some buildings … and certainly not just limited parts of a building !
In practice, people with disabilities must be included in all practice evacuation drills … and they must be included in all activities related to ‘fire safety’ and/or necessary to prepare for safe evacuation.
Furthermore … because Electronic, Information and Communication Technologies (EICT’s) now serve a function which is critical, during a fire incident, for the safety of all building users and firefighters, property protection, minimizing environmental damage, and sustainability … they must have a user interface which is Accessible for All … from both ends.
With regard to ‘adequate’ provision … please find attached the 2010 USA Disability Statistics … which indicate:
- Minimum Reasonable Provision for People with Disabilities in a Building … 10% of User/Occupant Population ;
- Minimum Reasonable Provision for People with Activity Limitations in a Building … 15% of User/Occupant Population.
The numbers of people with disabilities in developing and the least developed economies far exceed numbers in developed economies !
Best wishes for the success of your meeting in Sydney.
C.J. Walsh – Consultant Architect, Fire Engineer & Technical Controller.
2014-10-17: Within the professional discipline of Fire Engineering … either a building is ‘fire safe’, or it is not. The Design Philosophy of the Fire Engineer is irrelevant. In fact, nearly everybody involved with fire safety in buildings would collapse in a fit of laughter at the delusional notion that a design philosophy was relevant. People’s lives are at stake !
Similarly, now, we must begin to think and act in the simple terms of a building either being ‘accessible’, or not. At stake, this time, is the quality of life and living for very many vulnerable people in all of our societies.
Accessibility for All, according to International Standard ISO 21542 (2011) … includes the approach, entry to and use of a building, egress during normal conditions and removal from the vicinity of the building … and, most importantly, evacuation during a fire incident to a ‘place of safety’ which is remote from the building.
Concerning that All above … FireOx International’s ‘Fire Safety for All’ Matrix shows who exactly we are talking about … and who must be considered in the development of a Fire Safety Strategy for every building … not just some buildings !
This is not just good design practice … it is also mandated in International Human Rights Law.
Building Fire Safety Codes and Standards exist in almost every country. However – IF they exist at all – those guidelines relating to the Fire Safety of People with Activity Limitations are technically inadequate, entirely tokenistic and/or blatantly discriminatory.
Refer to my previous post … BS 9999:2008 & BS 8300:2009 – Sleepwalking into Problems ?
It is time to Reboot this ridiculous, professionally negligent and obsolete old system … Reload with innovative and practical building design, construction, management and personal self-protection solutions … and Implement !
Register Now !
[ EICT’s = Electronic, Information & Communication Technologies ]
2014-10-13: Electronic, Information and Communication Technologies have rapidly become an essential feature of the Built, Social and Economic Environments; they are everywhere. During a fire incident, however, these e-Technologies serve a function which is critical for the safety of all building users and firefighters, property protection, minimizing environmental damage, and sustainability. They must, therefore, have a user interface which is Accessible for All … from both ends.
This is a requirement of International Law … and an unambiguous National Requirement (expressed in the form of law and/or mandatory administrative provisions) in those jurisdictions which are States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
There is no European Standard (EN) on e-Technology Accessibility … and, in the European Union (EU), a coherent approach to the accessibility of even a modest range of EICT’s has not yet even been developed.
Electronic, Information and Communication Technologies (EICT’s) must comply with Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998 … or with a suitable Standard/Guidance Document of another country which details an equivalent level of e-Accessibility performance.
U.S. Section 508 covers the following range of e-Technologies:
- Software Applications & Operating Systems (1194.21) ;
- Web-based Intranet and Internet Information and Applications (1194.22) ;
- Telecommunications Products (1194.23) ;
- Video and Multimedia Products (1194.24) ;
- Self Contained, Closed Products (1194.25) ;
- Desktop and Portable Computers (1194.26)
Source WebSite, Helpful Guidance & Support …
2014-08-28: Earlier this month … the final straw … as I caught up on a ‘piece’ in McGraw Hill’s Architectural Record … which reproduced an original, intriguing article from designMENA.com, posted on 12 August 2014, by Nick Ames …
Rebel Architects Star In New TV Show
Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera is to show a series of films focusing on radical architects from Pakistan, Brazil, Nigeria, Spain, Palestine and Vietnam. The series – entitled ‘Rebel Architecture’ – focuses on architects using design to confront urban, environmental and social problems in their communities.
Dan Davies, producer of the series, said: “We couldn’t help noticing that despite all the problems afflicting humanity, many of which architecture uniquely has the ability to assist and even solve, most of the mainstream and architectural press celebrates the aesthetics of huge iconic projects, marvelling at insanely complicated ways to fold giant sheets of metal.”
“As we face issues from floods and natural disasters to an explosion of urban populations, soaring inequality and displacement through conflict, architecture seems wholly absent. So we wanted to look beyond the discussion of the aesthetics of Star-chitecture and see what architects outside the mainstream are doing.”
The six-part series, which starts on 18 August, begins with a film documenting the work of Spanish architect Santiago Cirugeda, who uses his knowledge of planning law to occupy abandoned properties and to build structures on unused land.
It also features Pakistani architect Yasmeen Lari, who designs disaster relief shelters and Eyal Weizman, professor of spatial and visual cultures at Goldsmiths University, who explores the way the built environment is used as an instrument of occupation.
In Vietnam, the series follows Vo Trong Nghia, whose projects focus on open spaces and sustainable design, while in Nigeria, Kunlé Adeyemi has designed floating buildings to solve issues of flooding and overcrowding.
The final episode explores Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil, with builder Ricardo de Oliveira, and master planner Luis Toledo.
“The rebel architects have to push boundaries, but they must also look beyond their own buildings,” said Davies. “They start by looking at the wider context in which they live – be it Spain hit by the financial crisis, or Pakistan ravaged by floods – and work out how they can change the status quo with architecture.”
I SAY …
Shouldn’t every Architect be concerned about the issues raised in Nick’s article ? And if not … why not ??
Architecture is a wide and complex field of human creative, artistic and scientific endeavour. Yet in the international and national media, both mainstream and architectural … it does appear, as presented, to be narrowly confined to the “aesthetics of huge iconic projects”, and “insanely complicated ways to fold giant sheets of metal”. And the various media continue to focus on and enthusiastically applaud the current, outrageous phallic skyscraper contest in, for example, the Arab Gulf Region, China and South-East Asia … a contest which is actively promoted by such international organizations as the US-based Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat. [ I might add … with entirely insufficient attention being paid to fire safety, resilience and sustainability in those Super-Tall Buildings !! ]
If Santiago Cirugeda, Yasmeen Lari, Eyal Weizman, Vo Trong Nghia, Kunlé Adeyemi, Ricardo de Oliveira, and Luis Toledo are indeed Rebels … [ I would argue that they most definitely are not ] … and each one is working in isolation … then we must urgently instigate a Revolution …
Creative Architecture In Context !!
PRINCIPAL BARRIER …
The Institutional Framework of Today’s Conventional Architecture … typically developed to promote and protect a 19th Century Model of Architectural Practice … exerts a powerful stranglehold over the architectural profession and the schools of architecture in many countries. It is no longer ‘fit for purpose’ in the 21st Century !
Here in Ireland … a few days before reading the Nick Ames article … I attended a long Extraordinary General Meeting of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) … called by 10 Institute Members to demand urgent, concerted action from the Institute’s Council in response to the new and very flawed Building Control Amendment Regulations (Statutory Instruments Nos.9 & 105 of 2014), which came into effect from 1 March 2014.
Far from being an enlightening and pleasurable occasion … for many small reasons, it was annoying and frustrating. The biggest reason of all, however, was that I saw no evidence whatever that either Council or the Membership understands the simple, fundamental truth that … self-regulation/self-certification does NOT work !
Refer back to my previous post.
The General Public in Ireland … also known as ‘The Long-Suffering Consumer’ … does not trust the Medical and Legal Professions to self-regulate, despite the vociferous protestations from both that their internal regulatory systems are packed-packed-packed with civilians. Yes … ‘selected’ civilians !
That particular evening in the Davenport Hotel, Dublin … the RIAI’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) went nowhere … aided and abetted by Council Members at the head table. It was interesting to note that none of the 10 Institute Members who had called the meeting had a seat at that same table.
As we exit the Profound Economic Crisis following the Extravagant Celtic Tiger Years … and coldly look around us … we witness an architectural profession lost in a contextual wilderness – urban, environmental and social – while fumbling around in a legal and political maze. And, every day, we experience a sprawling, ugly, depressing and unsustainable built environment which is engaged in a sad and brutal conflict with nature.
It has taken at least a generation … but the RIAI has directly overseen the slow and progressive dilution of what it means to be an Architect in Ireland.
Time for The Revolution … To The Barricades !!
2014-07-08: Why do individuals and institutions wake up to a problem only when extensive damage to property, or horrendous injury to people, has already occurred … and the shit hits the fan … big time ?!? What way is that to organize a society … or protect its communities ???
The Answer is Simple: Prevention ! Not Cure … when damage cannot be effectively repaired … some injuries can never be healed … and it becomes very costly to do anything !!
In Ireland … Part D of the Second Schedule to the Building Regulations, as amended, states the following …
Materials & Workmanship
Legal Requirement D1: All works to which these Regulations apply shall be carried out with proper materials and in a workmanlike (i.e. competent) manner.
Definition of ‘Proper Materials’
Proper Materials: Building/construction materials (or products, systems, assemblies, etc.) which are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions/location in which they are to be used.
Reference European Union (EU) Legislation
EU Regulation No.305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 9 March 2011, laying down harmonised conditions for the marketing of construction products and repealing Council Directive 89/106/EEC.
[ N.B. The 1989 European Directive on Construction Products (89/106/EEC) was repealed, in 2011, by Article 65 of EU Regulation No.305/2011. ]
It is the duty of a Supplier … any Supplier, e.g. manufacturer, distributor, agent, wholesaler, whatever … of building/construction materials to clearly show that they are ‘proper materials’, i.e. they are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions/location in which they are to be used.
Refer to SDI’s Technical Guidance Notes … www.sustainable-design.ie/arch/tgn.htm
It is the duty of the Design Professional in Responsible Charge of a construction project (whoever he/she may be – architect, engineer, etc., etc.) to demand of a Supplier … additionally and most particularly, where there are any doubts about any relevant aspect of that material’s performance … that he/she/they clearly show that the building/construction materials they are supplying are ‘proper materials’, i.e. they are fit for the use for which they are intended and for the conditions/location in which they are to be used.
When Pyrite, for example, shows up in the hardcore under a finished concrete floor, or in the blockwork of a completed wall, in an Irish building … we know who has ignored his or her legal/professional duty concerning proper and satisfactory compliance with Legal Requirement D1 … and who is liable.
For bureaucrats and the legal profession, this is the end of the story.
At this stage – when building occupants are hurt and extremely annoyed following, perhaps years, of inconvenience and discomfort – it’s too late ! The damage cannot be effectively repaired … and such limited repairs which can, in practical terms, be carried out will be very expensive.
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM …
In Ireland, have we properly learned any lessons from Priory Hall, Pyrite, or Chinese Plasterboard ? No !
Could these or similar problems occur AGAIN on an Irish building site ? Yes !
Because … aided and abetted by the professional institutes … a ‘blind eye’ is being turned to the greatest lesson of all … that self-regulation/self-certification does NOT work !!
And Other E.U. Member States ???
The wording in national/local legislation may be slightly different … the language certainly will be different … but the legal intent is the same.
Legal/professional duties are similar.
Self-regulation/self-certification doesn’t work there either !
- Recent Terenure Terraced Housing Fires – Party Wall Failures !! on
- Osaka’s 2011 Cherry Blossom Walk in Post-Disaster Japan ? on
- Japan in April and May 2010 … Accessibility-for-All ! on
- Recent Terenure Terraced Housing Fires – Party Wall Failures !! on
- Recent Terenure Terraced Housing Fires – Party Wall Failures !! on
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