Framework to reduce fire risks in informal settlements

Published:  05 November, 2018

Arup has released new guidance concerning fire risk in informal settlements.

Published in advance of the UN International Day for Disaster Reduction, the Framework for fire safety in an informal settlement is the result of three years of in-depth research and aims to help NGOs, aid organisations and governments take a holistic view of fire safety in these communities and help them build their resilience.

Informal settlements are unplanned and often densely-populated residential areas. Around one billion people globally currently live in some form of informal settlement, including slums and refugee camps. Inhabitants live in poor-quality housing with limited supporting infrastructure and services, including health care and emergency services. This makes them extremely vulnerable to fires and other hazards.

Fire is responsible for around 130,000 deaths worldwide each year, and almost half of these occur in the low/low-middle SDI countries, which are home to many informal settlements. However, fire safety in such settlements is often not incorporated in wider disaster planning, leading to a gap in fire safety knowledge, experience, and construction guidance for these communities and the organisations that support them.

To bridge that gap, Arup’s Fire Engineering and International Development team spent three years visiting informal settlements, conducting interviews with community leaders, fire and rescue services, NGOs, academic institutions, and social businesses, and reviewing technical and academic literature. The resulting framework aims to improve fire safety in these high-risk communities by providing a common language for a wide range of stakeholders.

The Framework for fire safety in informal settlements delivers practical guidance to help NGOs, aid organisations and governments guide individual households, communities and cities to take proactive action in each of the four stages of the fire disaster cycle:

·         Mitigation – measures to prevent or reduce the likelihood, severity, and consequences of fire.

·         Preparedness – strategies, procedures, resources and training that influence and inform stakeholders’ fire response and recovery.

·         Response – actions taken during a fire incident to save lives, protect property and critical infrastructure.

·         Recovery – actions taken in the aftermath of a fire incident, both immediately to assist with healthcare and welfare, and longer-term to return communities to normal life and bring about improvements in fire safety.

Frameworks for fire safety in informal settlements can be downloaded here.

  • Operation Florian

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