Sprinklers are the best way to prevent or reduce fire damage and casualties, but if they prove too difficult to install, then an alarm system is advised.
Chan Sirirat, assistant managing director of the property consultant Plus Property Co Ltd, said an alarm system is crucial for building safety, as it works as a precaution before worse loss or damage is created.
“Since the old buildings [approved before the Building Control Act of 1992 was effective] have no sprinkler systems, we suggest an alarm system,” he said.
This includes heat and smoke detectors. The investment would be 1 million baht for a building between 10,000 and 15,000 square metres. One unit is needed for every 30 sq m.
At the same time, the best sprinkler systems are expensive. Old buildings were only required to have fire stairs under previous law.
“Investment in safety is important as it builds reputation and reduces loss, damage and casualties as well as increases business competency,” said Mr Chan.
In his view, the Building Inspection Act that took effect five years ago is insufficient for prevention.
“Building owners must be aware of safety issues and support safety measures,” he said. “Property management must make a good plan for prevention and handling not only fires but also other safety issues such as terrorism.”
Office buildings for rent will perhaps put a lower priority on safety than buildings used directly by owners such as banks, condominiums and malls.
Plus Property Co has 70 customers for its building inspection service and plans to have 80-85 buildings this year.
Major problems found when inspecting buildings include unclear or hidden signage for escape routes, objects obstructing escape routes or stairs and malfunctioning lighting systems, sprinklers and smoke detectors.
In Bangkok, more than 2,000 buildings require inspection annually. Some 70% are buildings with a height over 23 metres or an area of more than 10,000 sq m, known as “large-scale buildings”.