India: new fire safety norms for existing glass façade buildings

With problems due to an increasing number of buildings using glass façades, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has drawn up guidelines applying to façade structures installed before 2012. The fire department is yet to prepare an exact record of the number of glass façade buildings in the city.

In its bid to make its high-rise buildings with glass façades safe, the Mumbai Fire Brigade has drawn up a series of guidelines for glass façade structures installed before 2012.
Owners must provide smoke seal/ barriers between the building wall and façade on every floor level in the form of non-combustible material/vermiculite cement, according to the new norms. People should be able to open glass panes blocking staircases, lift lobby and corridors. Pressurised system of the staircase/ lobby should be synchronised with glass façade window opening mechanism.
The rules also recommended that a minimum 2.5% of the floor area of each compartment on every floor should be utilised in such a manner that they can be cleared immediately in case of emergencies.
Fire officials want the refuge area to be built above the height of 1.2 metres from the flooring level. If covered with glass façade, one should be able to access it from directions.
A fire in a commercial high-rise at Bandra-Kurla Complex in September 2012 had prompted the BMC to come up with regulations for upcoming glass façade structures. But the rules were silent on existing buildings.
The civic body was compelled to pay serious attention to the issue after a blaze struck Lotus Business Park, an eight-year-old skyscraper in Andheri (West), in July 2014. The incident had claimed one fireman’s life and injured 20. Firefighters struggled for hours to control the fire as the building had violated many safety norms.
The fire department is yet to prepare an exact record of the number of glass façade buildings in the city.