Electrical fire safety is of paramount importance in buildings and monumental projects

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Shreegopal Kabra, Managing Director & President, RR Global and erstwhile President of IEEMA is the real-life brand ambassador for electrical fire safety.  Our Publisher Shirish Dongre caught up with him in a video interview to find out his perspectives on fire safety in India.  Kabra  is of the view that the real culprit of the fire fatalities is the smoke emanating from burning cables and wires, and this can be arrested by using the right cables and wires which are low smoke, zero halogen, non-toxic, non-corrosive wires which are prone to emit smoke only to the extent of 4% as against flexible and FRS wires which are 70% vulnerable.  Excerpts:

Q. What are the insights you wish to give on electrical fire safety?

We often hear about road accidents and deaths due to outbreak of fire. In majority of the cases, the cause of death is not fire. The culprit is smoke emanating from burning wires. There needs to be more awareness about this in the country. When I was the president of IEEMA, I had initiated an ‘Electrical Fire Safety Conclave’.

The Redevelopment of Central Vista is in the news now. This is a sensitive subject. It is going to be a real monument of this century. It’s the PM Narendra Modi’s vision to create a global brand image by recreating this edifice. But the sad part is that whoever is responsible for construction are bent upon using flexible /FRS wire. It bears ISI certification, alright. But 70% of the fire incidents take place because of electrical. Out of this 72-75% of the fire happens because of wire & cable and switchgear.

Recently when there was a fire in Central London, the parliament questioned it and made stringent rules for wire and cable usage.

Coming back to the use of wires in a prestigious project like Central Vista, they can use low smoke zero halogen wire which is better than FRS. But I can tell you the truth with confidence that nowhere in the world flexible wire and FRS wire are used. FRS is India’s imagination. It is a modified version of PVC. When fire takes place, PVC is 100% vulnerable, while FRS is 70%.There is no sense in using FRS wire. The right products are available for the last 25years – low smoke, zero halogen, non-toxic, non-corrosive wires which are prone to emit smoke only to the extent of 4%. We must accept the fact that in the past wherever people have died because of fire, have died because of heavy smoke, be it Upahaar Cinema or Surat Coaching Center.

Q. Smoke is more dangerous and fatal than fire you say. What measures should the government and industry take to avoid such disasters?

PVC is the most susceptible material prone to catch fire. It is wrong to use flexible wire with class 2 conductor which is in vogue in India. If you see elsewhere in the world, in the UK for example, they have different standards for panel wire, building wire, halogen-free flame retardant wire, and PVC wire. Here in India we have just one standard – IS:694. So people are taking advantage of this, and the whole country is suffering. This has to be redressed.

When you take a project, four things are crucial: plumbing, firefighting equipment, electrical, and wiring. These are like internal parts of the human body. In order to ensure they are failsafe, giving optimum performance, we must use the right type of products. If you consider the total cost of the project, the electrical component is miniscule. But if you compromise on these small things, there will be catastrophe like leakage due to poor quality plumbing or fire due to wrong grade of wire. We don’t realize that fire takes place at 850 deg. C, while aluminium conductors melt at 650 deg. C. Where is the heat resistance? Where is the fire safety?

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