Notre-Dame Cathedral fire spurs survey of Thai temples

Construction News
Volunteers clean Buddha statues at Wat Suthat Thepphawararam in Bangkok to mark National Heritage Day early this month

Notre-Dame Cathedral fire spurs survey of Thai temples

26 April 2019

The Engineering Institute of Thailand (EIT) is studying how to install fire extinguishing systems at religious venues and ancient sites in the wake of the blaze at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris last week.

Pichaya Chantranuwat, secretary-general of the EIT, said most of the temples in Thailand are not equipped with such systems and are therefore vulnerable.

Such places of religious and historical significance cater to large congregations so there must at least be basic measures to prevent fires, such as fire hydrants, he said.

“The EIT will conduct a thorough study of the issue and draw references from other places [with effective fire-extinguishing systems] in order to set up similar systems that meet the standard required for our temples and other religious sites,” Mr Pichaya added.

EIT staff will start by surveying large temples, he noted, adding that as their interior designs vary, different systems may be needed.

“The EIT will also study how such systems should be installed so that they don’t compromise or jeopardise the architectural beauty of the venues,” said Mr Pichaya.

The EIT is concerned a fire could break out in old buildings and historical attractions as they have quite complicated design structures and many cover vast areas.

Bangkok has recorded 88 “serious” fires this year, resulting in two people dead and 77 injured, according to Mr Pichaya.

He said the EIT was especially worried about buildings measuring 23 metres or higher that were constructed before the Building Control Act took effect in 1990. There are more than 1,000 of these in the capital, he said.

A recent blaze at a major shopping mall in downtown Bangkok has prompted engineers and architects to pay closer attention to the construction materials they use and the way shafts are designed, he added.

Bussakorn Saensuk, chairwoman of the EIT’s engineering safety committee, said air ducts must be insulated with fire-resistant materials to prevent fires from spreading for at least two hours.