FIRE, ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY
Around the world fire, accidents and emergencies can happen at any time and any place, regardless of the advanced nature of the country or the precautions taken. This is true of a country of residence or while travelling around the world.
Major incidents around the world are becoming less frequent, but the risk of an accident or incident happening to an individual is still a serious threat wherever they may be. Suitable measures are advised, as many dangers still persist and the severity of an incident can cause loss of life and devastation.
Fire, accidents or injury can strike and affect anyone at any time. Regardless of lifestyle, profession, occupation or working environment, the activity taking place, surroundings or the precautions taken, there are risks associated with any pursuit in life. Although in this modern era risk and safety is much more of a consideration in working and everyday life, individual and major accidents or incidents regularly take place across the globe, from developing to advanced countries and cities, at home and abroad.
Although the volume and frequency of these events may be decreasing in most parts of the world, the dangers can not be eliminated. Across the world there are various levels of safety standards and regulations which can vary widely and make it difficult to identify how safe a country is, regarding their infrastructure, transportation, roads, buildings etc, including, identifying how well their emergency services and healthcare services can cope with minor incidents or major complex emergencies of all kinds.
There are numerous and often complex causes of fire, accidents, incidents and injury, that may be difficult to mitigate. Whether an event is caused unintentionally, intentionally, by nature or other. Causes are actions, omissions, events, conditions, or a combination and can include anything from, structural failure, the failure or malfunction of machinery, engineering, a weather event, unnecessary risks being taken or complacency of individuals, management, authorities, organisations or other and human error.
The fallibility of the human element can not be understated, as many events, particularly in this modern era, involve human error, which can lead to a higher risk of incidents taking place, which can include voluntary actions, a failure to act, corruption and criminal negligence etc. There are also instances in less regulated industries or other, fire safety or health and safety funding can be lacking or withdrawn, or insufficient planning put in place, due to a decline of incidents or a misplaced belief an event is unlikely to happen. This can be compounded with shortcuts being taken, whether procedural, design, construction or other.
Additionally, it has been known that due to the responsibility of fire precaution and health & safety being removed from the individual, a false sense of security may hinder suitable precautions being taken by an individual for their personal safety, coworker's safety, family's safety or for others, at home or abroad, resulting in a lack of situational awareness and unnecessary risks being taken, or a slow reaction to an emergency taking place.
Organisations around the world have a duty to put in place suitable arrangements to manage health and safety and fire safety. It should be part of the everyday process of running a business and an integral part of workplace behaviours and attitudes for every size, industry or nature of an organisation. In recent years, safety standards within industry and the corporate world have changed, the approach to occupational health and safety is changing for the better across the globe. Companies of all sizes and type are shifting from a reactive attitude to a conscious management of operational safety issues, a prelude to the development of a real corporate culture of occupational health & safety. This has added to the overall decline of serious incidents and has been a major factor contributing to the positive trend of improvements in safety standards around the globe, nonetheless, further attention needs to be given to this area and responsibilities highlighted.
Fire - The risk of fire is ever present anywhere in the world. Fires and smoke inhalation can lead to huge loss of life in a very short period of time, and can occur within any domestic or non-domestic structure, transportation method and any natural area under certain conditions. Isolated or major fire incidents may occur in any number of structures including houses, hotels, apartment blocks, offices, to any transportation inclusive of any road vehicle, train, aircraft, ferry and infrastructure including ports, airports, road tunnels or industry sites, operational locations and storage facilities. All having varying hazards, combustible material and degrees of danger associated with each particular structure, method of transport or environment.
Fire safety has always been a critical issue around the world and concerns are growing in many countries due to an increase in population density and in relation to building construction material. As many modern cities are home to hundreds of high-rise buildings and are constructed using a variety of flammable materials generating concern in relation to fire safety. Building regulations in many countries have begun to address fire safety issues, in particular risk to life and protection of property. Selection of suitably flame-retardant building materials is important in structural design and is now being considered by more authorities, however in many countries around the world, existing buildings may not comply with a good standard of building codes found in countries addressing these issues.
Fire incidents of all types can have devastating effects, resulting in mass loss of life, destruction of buildings, infrastructure and personal property. It is important not to underestimate the risk of fire in familiar or unfamiliar locations. It is also important not to underestimate the behaviour of fire and the different characteristics. Typical fire development occurs over four consecutive stages - incipient, growth, fully developed and decay with each stage with varying degrees of risk. Despite the provision of new active control technologies, such as sprinkler systems and smoke detectors, full fire prevention can still not be achieved. These preventive measures may only be effective in the pre-flashover stages of a developing fire and become ineffective as the fire develops to flashover and steady burning, where the involvement of fire fighters becomes critical.
Transport - Transport accidents occur across the world to varying degrees and frequency, these incidents mainly involve private vehicles on public roads, but frequently involve other types of transport including, trains, aircraft and boats of various kinds. There are well practised plans in place in most advanced countries, including in most major populated areas and cities, that are able to deal with these events at local and regional level, but this cannot be guaranteed or is not in place in a number of developing countries around the world. Also rare major transport accidents which require a form of national emergency response, may be completely lacking. Thanks to modern safety regimes, large-scale transport accidents are very rare, nevertheless they cannot be entirely ruled out.
Air - In recent years the safety of air travel has been very good and safety measures have continued to improve. Over the last two decades aviation deaths around the world have been steadily falling. With this there has unfortunately been a number of major disasters involving aircraft, but there continues to be a downward trend in air accidents across the world. Aviation safety varies across regions, countries and airlines, resulting in more incidents in certain less regulated places with airlines with poor safety records, but air travel continues to be one of the safest ways to travel around the globe.
Sea - Sea travel and ferry crossings have been getting safer over recent years. Safety standards have been improving around the globe, however, recent incidents of capsized vessels demonstrates the potential for loss of life on a massive scale when flooding of a vessel occurs. There have been well documented incidents were ferries have been hit by a container ship and rapidly sank. These incidents are becoming less frequent, but incidents can occur with any vessel and continue to happen more often in poorer parts of the world.
Rail - Whilst accidents do occur much more frequently on road networks, the scale of a major rail incident may warrant a co-ordinated central government response that many countries around the world could not facilitate. Continuing improvements to rail safety regimes and infrastructure over recent years around the world have seen a substantial reduction in both the frequency and impact of rail accidents, but in developing countries in particular unfortunately see incidents happen with major injuries and loss of life.
Road - Around the globe motor vehicle accidents are one of the major causes of serious injury and loss of life, with rates highest in the developing world. The most common victim of roadside incidents and deaths are vulnerable road users, which includes pedestrians, cyclists, or operators of other two-wheeled vehicles. Approximately 3,000 car related deaths occur every day around the world. With alcohol and other drugs found to be a contributing cause in up to 22% of vehicular accidents on the world’s roads. Automobile-related deaths rank as the 11th most common cause of death in many places, particularly developing countries, with young people in the age groups from 5 to 24 years old possessing the highest risks.