Kids’ lives at risk in high-rise fires

City planners are playing with fire and children’s lives.

Regulations allow child-care centres to be incorporated into high-rise buildings. But Ferm Engineering CEO Steve Burton says building codes and fire safety systems do not factor in how to move large numbers of children when an emergency occurs.

Fire safety engineers at Ferm Engineering, alarmed by the potential for children’s lives to be lost, have researched and developed tools to improve building designs for this vulnerable group.

Ferm identified that evacuating children requires a different process from adults. The model, based on behavioural studies of children in rehearsal evacuations, aligns with their interactions with adults and uses apparatus, like cots and slings for younger children, to safely move them.

Child-care operators need to consider safe evacuation procedures in high-rise building designs and when seeking government approvals.

Involving fire safety engineers with architects early in the process can enable seamless integration of building code and child-care centre approvals.

Ferm Engineering is advocating for its model to be included in a planned revision of the National Construction Code. In the meantime, incorporating the Ferm model into building designs offers best practice for child and staff safety and gives operators peace of mind to invest in new high-rise child-care centres.

Email [email protected] for more information about designing safe egress systems into high-rise buildings that house child-care centres and facilities for the elderly or the disabled.