Go to a mall on any given day and you will find it filled with hundreds of people visiting the various clothes stores, food stores, restaurants, home good stores, electronics stores and more. Now, imagine this - A fire breaks out in one of the restaurant kitchens. An air conditioner short circuits in a garments store. Or an overloaded plug point bursts into flames in an electronics store.
Imagine the magnitude of panic, stampede, the loss of life and destruction that takes place; especially when all it takes for a full-fledged fire to break out, is 6 minutes.
Common Causes of a Mall Fire
Some of the common causes of mall fires are:
Electrical issues: These include faulty wiring, defective electrical equipment and lack of maintenance.
Mall restaurant kitchens: Kitchens often contain open flames, high heat and flammable goods such as oil and grease.
Inadequate and unreliable fire safety systems: These have to be maintained and checked regularly to ensure they deliver in case a fire breaks out.
Besides following the regulations listed in the National Building Code, all malls should ensure the following:
Ensure they are equipped with the required number of emergency exits, placement of stairways and fire equipment. Fire exit signs, sitemaps and marking should also be in place reliable fire suppression systems must be installed. It’s not enough to just have a few fire extinguishers placed randomly on every floor of the mall. Early detector systems, automatic overhead sprinkler systems, smoke detectors and different kinds of strategically placed fire extinguishers must be installed to successfully combat various classes of fire.
Kitchen Suppression Systems should be installed in mall restaurants. These commercial kitchen are designed exclusively for a commercial kitchen environment considering the associated risks of fire. The systems knock down flames and create a tremendous cooling effect, while generating massive vaporisation and hence eliminate the chances of a fire re-igniting.
Regular fire drills with the mall staff and security personnel should be conducted. All fire equipment must be checked regularly and evacuation routes must be checked for obstructions and tested to maintain continuity. Experts should be called in to create and assess standard operating procedures and processes.