A critical study on the fire safety provisions of karaoke establishments

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A critical study on the fire safety provisions of karaoke establishments


Author: Lui, Che-heng Gigi
Title: A critical study on the fire safety provisions of karaoke establishments
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2001
Subject: Karaoke -- Fires and fire prevention -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Building Services Engineering
Pages: xxi, 186, [137] leaves : ill., plans ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1599561
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/2365
Abstract: Consequent to an arson fire occurring in a karaoke bar in Hong Kong taking the lives of 17 people, public concern on the safety aspects of karaoke establishments was raised. A unified licensing control scheme on the safety aspects of karaoke establishments has been proposed by the Government, with new regulations including a long list of fire safety requirements. However, those additional items were lack of scientific support. The karaoke industry is not convinced to follow though karaoke owners are keen on upgrading the fire safety provisions. Three points on building safety requirements are not accepted, leading to debates and arguments. The three points of concern are on: increasing the corridor width to 1.2 m; having one-hour fire resistance of internal walls and eliminating all 'dead-ends'. The objective of this project is to study the fire safety provisions in karaoke establishments critically with fire science and engineering. Existing fire safety regulations for karaoke establishments were firstly reviewed. Fire safety aspects for existing karaoke establishments were then studied. The building nature, fire safety parameters, passive building fire protection design, fire service installations, and awareness of fire safety management in 45 karaoke establishments were surveyed in May 1998 and December 1999. An investigation was further carried out in May 2000 with detailed architectural drawings provided by 19 karaoke establishments. Special features of the karaoke establishments are identified. It is found that further studies must be carried out before recommending fire safety requirements. At the transition stage of waiting for workable proposals, fire safety management should be implemented. Proper fire safety management should give a safe karaoke establishment even if the building fire safety requirements and fire service installations are not satisfactory. A fire safety ranking system is proposed to assess the fire safety provisions of existing karaoke establishments by investigating how far the existing karaoke establishments deviate from the new requirements. Attributes are grouped as the hardware requirements of the passive building design and fire service installations; and the software requirements of the control of risk factors based on local fire safety codes and fire safety management. From the survey results, the fire safety levels of karaoke establishments were rated. Fire safety management schemes are proposed with three action levels for karaoke establishments with different safety provisions, following the fire safety ranking system developed. Effective fire safety strategies and management procedures for life safety and property protection are recommended. A fundamental question on 'how big is a karaoke fire?' was not asked by neither the Government nor the service industry. This question should be answered by referring to the heat release rates of burning different combustible items in the karaoke establishments. Though there is no database on the fire behaviour of the local materials, estimation on the heat release rates was made in this thesis by reviewing the heat release rate curves in the literature. The likelihood of flashover due to furniture foam and other furniture items was also studied. The zone model FASTLite was used to study the effect of changing the corridor width on the fire environment, which also leads to a good understanding of the pre-flashover fire. The effects on evacuation of changing the corridor width and eliminating dead-ends in the karaoke establishments were further studied with the aid of an evacuation simulation software, buildingEXODUS. The evacuation pattern was studied with different scenarios set in the establishments. Results indicated that increasing the corridor width to 1.2 m and eliminating the dead-ends would not change the smoke layer temperature and thickness, nor the total evacuation time. Concerning fire resisting construction, providing fire resistance period of 1 hour to the internal corridor wall is not so important. In fact, more attention should be paid on flame spreading over surface and partition materials. Further, it is recommended to carry out full-scale burning test in the entire karaoke box. All the research results from the project were transferred to the karaoke industry. After having discussions in a series of meetings, the Government departments agree to implement those three requirements of most concern on building passive design for existing karaoke establishments with flexibility.

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