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Common Chinese fire safety legislation used for supplier assessment

 
 

In recent years, accidental fires have occurred repeatedly, causing serious personal injury and death in some cases. Therefore, fire safety is very important and can’t be ignored at manufacturing sites, which are usually labor-intensive. China has already established a set of fire safety regulations, from policy-based regulations about fire prevention and reduction to specific standards relating to requirements for fire safety facilities and monitoring processes. The Fire Act is original from the obsolete Fire Supervision law, which was launched in 1957. The latest updated law relating to fire safety is the Code for Fire Protection Design of Buildings (GB50016-2014) (the latest version is effective from May 1, 2015), which combines the original specification and the Code of Fire Protection Design of Tall Buildings to increase consistency and compatibility with other standard protocols. Some common practices concerning fire safety are discussed below.

According to the Fire Act Article 16, the manufacturers shall fulfil fire safety responsibilities including: developing firefighting and emergency evacuation plans, ensuring fire safety facilities and signs are in good order, ensuring the regular inspection of buildings’ fire protection systems and equipment at least once a year, keeping evacuation routes clear, organizing fire drills, etc.

What are buildings’ fire protection systems and equipment? They include fire hydrant systems, sprinkler systems, automatic fire alarm systems, and so on. So manufacturers need to ensure that fire safety equipment is checked yearly by qualified personnel and records are kept. It also needs to ensure evacuation routes are not blocked in any period; for example, goods must not be temporarily placed in evacuation routes during shipment or transition. Other common issues related to evacuation routes include the locking of exit doors during working hours or electrically locking doors that are impossible to open during power cuts; these issues should be immediately rectified and recurrence prevented.

The Code for Fire Protection Design of Buildings Article 6.4 prohibits the following from being installed on an evacuation staircase: water heating facilities, pipelines for class A / B / C liquefied chemicals, storerooms for combustible materials, etc. It is commonly observed that manufacturers have a small temporary storeroom on staircases (especially under staircases on the ground floor); manufacturers should ensure that stored materials are non-combustible, otherwise the requirement will be violated. Article 10.1 states that emergency lighting and lighting evacuation signs should be continuously working, with not less than half an hour’s backup power supply, in general. In addition, routine light-on checking with power cut, it also consider the lamps can continuously operate for half an hour to ensure compliance with the requirement, especially in the case of aging equipment.

For fire extinguisher management, the Code for Design of Extinguisher Distribution in Buildings (GB50140-2005) can be cited. In Articles 6.1.1 and 5.1.1, it is required that every unit must have no fewer than two fire extinguishers, which should be highly visible and located in easily accessible areas, and should not adversely affect safe evacuation. Also, the Code for Acceptance and Inspection of Extinguisher Distribution in Buildings (GB50444-2008) Article 5.3.2 stipulates maintenance periods based on fire extinguisher type; for example, a dry powder extinguisher shall be maintained after the first five years, and at least every two years after initial maintenance. Article 5.4.2 states that fire extinguishers shall be scrapped if they display no producer name or production year, either because there is no metal plate or the metal plate is not readable, or the stamp of production month and year is not visible. Therefore, manufacturers should not just read pressure gauges on fire extinguishers during routine inspection but should also be aware of the number of fire extinguishers and ensure in regular maintenance routines that relevant information is clearly visible.

For the above common problems, manufacturers must take proper action to eliminate them and ensure appropriate management is in place. This document only includes some of the commonly used fire regulations. Manufacturers need to consider and operate by other fire safety laws, industry standards and local standards, such as the Rules of Warehouse Fire Safety Management, Regulations on Fire Prevention Safety Administration of State Organs, Associations, Enterprises and Institutions, Maintenance for Fire Equipment in Buildings, and so on. In cases where inconsistency is observed, the relevant articles shall be complied with more stringently.

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Alexis Shu
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