Enhancing Fire Safety in Hostel Designs
Objectives of the study
To achieve this aim, the researchers sought
- To assess the level of fire safety awareness among occupants living in hostels.
- To identify the firefighting equipment available in the hostels under study.
- To identify fire safety management practices which needs to be put in place by management to control the outbreak of fire in the hostels.
History of Fire
Fire has been with mankind since the beginning of time. People have always known about fire, because fires happened naturally when there were lightning strikes or 15 sparks from two rocks hitting together. Early man invention of on-purpose cooking fires is estimated at about one million years ago. Perhaps the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 BC, made people invent the idea of fires inside, to keep their caves warm. To make their wood supply last longer, they started to use ovens (Brown et al, 2009).
Greek mythology dating around 1000 BC has it that fire was stolen from the gods by a witty and sly Prometheus as a revenge mission on god Zeus (Semmelroth, 2009).With the acquisition of fire came the problem of preserving it and to keep it from spreading or theft. A screen to protect it from the wind, in the form of a rock shelter or cave was used and a fire-keeper delegated to the work, thus starting a social organization (Brown et al, 2009).
The rapid oxidation at elevated temperatures accompanied by the evolution of heated gaseous products of combustion, and the emission of visible and invisible radiation is known as Fire (Abdullah, 2011). According to Kelvin (2009), the concept of fire can be symbolized by the Triangle of Fire, which is represented by fuel, heat, and oxygen as in Figure 2.1 (Dowd, 2012). The removal of any one of these factors usually will result in the fire being extinguished.
Stages of Fire Development
There are four main stages of fire development. These stages are incipient, growth, fully developed, and decay (Hartin, 2005). This first stage, the Incipient or ignition Stage begins when heat, oxygen and a fuel source combine and a chemical reaction occurs resulting in fire (Proulx, 2013). It is usually represented by a very small fire which often (and hopefully) goes out on its own, without moving to the consequent stages.
Recognizing a fire in this stage provides us with best chance at suppression or escape (Kelvin, 2009). The second stage is the Growth Stage where the building structures’ fire load and oxygen are used as fuel for the fire and as long as air is available (in well ventilated buildings), the fire grows very quickly. Factors such as location of in the room, types of combustibles, ceiling height and the potential for thermal layering affect the growth stage (DiGuiseppi et al., 2012). It is during this shortest of the four stages when the surfaces of everything within a compartment or room seem to burst into flame simultaneously; a condition called flashover occurs (Kennedy & Kennedy, 2013). Flashovers are well known of their potential of trapping, injuring or killing persons within the building.
The study was undertaken to assess the level of fire safety awareness among students living in multi-storey hostels, identify the firefighting equipment available in the hostels under study, and to identify fire safety management practices which need to be put in place by management to control the outbreak of fire in the hostels. This study employed a descriptive survey method.
Sources of Data
The data for this study were generated from two main sources; Primary sources and secondary sources. The primary sources include questionnaire, interviews and observation. The secondary sources include journals, bulletins, textbooks and the internet.
Population of the study
Data for the study was collected through a questionnaire survey. Respondents comprised of continuing students living in 11 multi-storey hostels around Nnamdi Azikiwe University campus. For the purposes of this study, multi-storey hostels were classified as those hostels that were three or more storeys high. There are quite a number of multi-storey hostels around the school. However, only those that were registered with the school were considered. Hostels that fell within this category were only eleven, and continuing students who were in 2nd to 6th years of their studies were considered. At Nnamdi Azikiwe University, students are obliged to move out of their halls of residences after their first years in school. Hence conducting a survey on the continuing students would give a clear perspective of the problem under investigation.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Profile of respondents
A total of 220 target respondents were identified and survey questionnaires were administered to them. Effectively, only 177 responded to the questionnaire, achieving an 80% response rate. The high response rate is attributed to the fact that the questionnaires were administered to respondents and successive follow-ups were made thereafter. Table 1 presents the demography of the respondents. From Table 1, it can be seen that majority of the respondents representing 92% were males whiles a relatively small proportion representing 8% were females. Generally, the percentage of males at UNIZIK outweighs that of females. It is not very surprising that this result was attained for the genders. With respect to the ages of the respondents, 53% fell within the age group of 21-25 years, whiles 38% fell below 20 years old. Only 9% were above 25 years old. Of late, most of the matured candidates prefer the distance learning education as compared to the regular ones. This could possibly be a reason why the respondents who fell within the age category of above 25 years were few. The results also give an indication of a very youthful student population.
With reference to the levels of the respondents in the university, Table 1 shows that 59% of the respondents were 2nd years, 26% were 3rd years, 14% were 4th years whiles 1% were in their 5th to 6th years. With the period of stay of the students in the hostels, twenty of the respondents, representing 11% had stayed in the hostels for less than a year, 121 representing 68% had stayed between 1-2 years, 31 representing 18% had stayed for a period of 2-3 years, and 5, representing 3% had stayed for 3-4 years. This result obtained is very good. This is because about 89% of the respondents had stayed in their respective hostels for about 1-4 years. As a result, they knew the conditions in the hostels, and were in better positions to give more reliable data.
This study was undertaken to assess the perceptions of students on fire safety awareness and management in multi-storey hostels around the Nnamdi Azikiwe University. To achieve the aim, the researchers sought to assess the level of fire safety awareness among students living in multi-storey hostels, identify
the firefighting equipment available in the hostels under study, and to identify fire safety management practices which need to be put in place by management to control the outbreak of fire in the hostels. Based on the findings of the study, it is clear that majority of the respondents do not attach seriousness to the issue of fire safety. As a result of this, fire safety awareness is low amongst most of the hostel occupants. Similarly, fire disaster preparedness is obviously low and the likelihood of extreme danger to life and property in any fire incidence is high. Evidently, hostel management who are directly responsible for fire safety management have ineffectively executed their responsibilities to keep the students safe. The situation at hand in most of the hostels is alarming and pragmatic steps should be taken to reduce to the barest minimum, the possibility of fire outbreaks. As a limitation of this study, the researchers appreciate the fact that the issue of generalizability is restricted by the geographical location. Due to the nearness in proximity of respondents, the survey was conducted on only one campus out of the several universities in Nigeria. Future works on fire safety awareness and management can be expanded to other university campuses to know the situations on such campuses. Further research can also be carried out to investigate the factors that influence fire disaster preparedness amongst hostel occupants.
The study recommends an integrated fire disaster management system involving all organizations operating at the airport and a provision for more and bigger emergency exits and a public address system that can be relied upon in case of a fire disaster.
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