How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

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BENIDORM
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How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby BENIDORM » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:36 pm

After viewing the events of the tragic apartments fire in London I started to wonder about safety in Spanish apartments.

I've had very little experience of apartment living so I don't know what safety precautions are taken, for instance do residents take part in any fire drill and are there adequate fire extinguishers etc.?

And what about holiday apartments, are there plenty of notices ,information etc.?
Perhaps someone can explain ?

Some members of my family were involved many years ago in an apartment fire.
It was in a high rise in Benidorm and their apartment and neighbouring apartments caught fire, and my family had to be rescued through the windows by firemen who scaled the side of the building with ladders that hooked on to each floor, quite a scary experience for them.!
The firemen were very skilled and removed my relative,her husband and her baby very quickly and they were whisked away to hospital rapidly, fortunately they only suffered some minor smoke inhalation problems, but recovered quickly.
The firemen also went back for the family dog who had to be revived with the fireman's breathing apparatus, poor dog was always very nervous after and he eventually came to live with us as my relative couldn't cope with him.

Anyway I would be interested to hear about fire regulations in apartments.
Regards,
Gordon

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby ajtg1952 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:44 pm

It's always hard to predict how a high rise building with perform in a fire. I did a PhD in the 70's on precast concrete cladding of buildings up to 20 stories. The external spread of fire was never considered but as there was no combustible material in the cladding that method of spread was considered unlikely.

Spanish high rise buildings are similar with concrete as the principal construction material in the floors and columns and tile or concrete blocks for the exterior walls. The buildings lateral stiffness comes from the inside lift and stair shafts.

Combustible material is generally contained within the building. Though external fire spread is always a possibility, I think it is unlikely. Sorry to sit on the fence, but as a structural engineer, I was shocked at what I saw this week.

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby Flexo » Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:28 pm

The silliest thing with the London fire was that the non-fireproof panels cost almost the same as the fireproofed. They made a business decision to save 5K GBP on the entire building to make it less safe.

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby costakid » Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:44 pm

I would never live in a high rise anywhere in the world. If the worse happens I think your doomed if your near the top.

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby BENIDORM » Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:30 pm

Ajtg,
Thank you for the technical explanation it's good to hear the facts from a professional . :thumbup:

Flexo, Crazy what greed can cause, for the sake of a small amount of money. :(

Costa,
I've never felt comfortable about the idea of living in a high rise, I've visited some fabulous apartments, but not for me, I actually felt safer when I was serving in submarines... :shock:
Regards,
Gordon

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby TorreDelAguila » Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:36 pm

Looking around at the high-ish rise apartment blocks in Torre del Mar last night, I noticed that all of them seemed to have non-flammable concrete/masonry external finish. Reassuring.

Ironically, and tragically, the Grenfell Tower was almost certainly less hazardous (fire-spread-wise) before it was renovated than afterwards. The clumsy installation of what looks like individual gas boilers in each apartment - and its associated exposed pipework - might yet be a factor in fuelling the blaze internally.

From film footage taken in a similarly renovated/clad tower block nearby, it seems that about 40cm of external air-space, framework and cladding panel was added to the outside of the building. Old window locations were "pushed outwards" to the outside of the new addition, creating new wide window sills/returns about 30cm wide . . . 'additional room space'.

Trouble is, any external fire (eg flaming cladding) would immediately enter the room space of each apartment via the new window bay from outside. Internal fire-stop doors would do nothing to stop this.

The safety isolation/fire containment of each dwelling had thus been wrecked by providing a fire-injection point into each and every apartment: the outside window aperture.

In practice, the whole tower had been wrapped in an inflammable blanket, capable of rapidly injecting its blaze into each household.
Chris

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby patricia » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:19 pm

It is awful to think that whilst they were "improving" the building they were, in fact signing a death warrant for the people living in it. Also another point is that that cladding was also water proof so that the firemen ´s hoses were in fact quite useless! The water would have little affect because of that.

I live in a small block - only three stories high - but I am ever conscience of fire and I am prepared if one starts. I do have a fire extinguisher and there is one in the hallway - a large one! -.

So I think they are more prepared then in the UK. However I always thought that there had to be access for people in case of a fire and in a large building I cannot imagine why there were no fire doors. I have seen them in nearly all buildings.

No I would not fancy living in a high rise block of flats, but I expect a lot of those people had no choice. It should have been safe - especially with all the new work done on it! - but instead they were, for sure, building something which was dangerous.

It is hard to get your head around people making decisions which are life and death issues and taking a plan of action that put peoples lives at risk like that! Where were their insight, their experience, their knowledge, their intelligence!

I never thought I would ever read about such a disaster in the UK!
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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby BENIDORM » Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:34 am

Patricia & Torre del Aguila,
Thank you for your interesting and intelligent responses.

I've just been watching the news about the forest fires in Portugal, and another heavy loss of life in dreadful circumstances.

Another area of concern for residents in Spain..... the tinder dry conditions and winds which I'm sure will cause fires here as well, so everyone should be aware and ready for quick evacuation.
Our first house was surrounded by a forest fire, fortunately it stopped just before affecting our property and I have to say that the fire and police were very efficient and organised in evacuating us.

So back to the original post, I'd still be very interested to hear from anyone who has experience with apartment living and what if any fire precautions- fire drills etc. exist ?

We have smoke and fire alarms in our house and for anyone who doesn't have them I really would recommend that you get them fitted, they are very cheap to purchase and easy to fit,many on e-bay for under a tenner for 2.
And of course it's important to check that the batteries are in order at least twice a year.

Regards,
Gordon

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby ajtg1952 » Sun Jun 18, 2017 1:50 pm

Flexo wrote:The silliest thing with the London fire was that the non-fireproof panels cost almost the same as the fireproofed. They made a business decision to save 5K GBP on the entire building to make it less safe.


Where did you get this figure from. Foam filled panels are very much cheaper to manufacture than the equivalent mineral panel. For a whole building I would expect the price difference to run into tens of thousands, if not more.

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby El Cid » Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:08 pm

That figure is all over the UK press. Apparently they are only $2 a metre cheaper and are not authorised for use in any building over 10m high. They are banned in most of Europe.

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby wollie » Sun Jun 18, 2017 2:13 pm

ajtg1952 wrote:
Flexo wrote:The silliest thing with the London fire was that the non-fireproof panels cost almost the same as the fireproofed. They made a business decision to save 5K GBP on the entire building to make it less safe.


Where did you get this figure from. Foam filled panels are very much cheaper to manufacture than the equivalent mineral panel. For a whole building I would expect the price difference to run into tens of thousands, if not more.


The more silly thing is this apartment block was re-furbished as it did not look right as it is in an affluent area of London.

Corbyn has suggested that people who lost their homes be re-housed in some empty houses that the news said were bought by
non UK nationals for tax purposes.
There were a few locals and it is clear they not wanted, have people no shame?

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby patricia » Sun Jun 18, 2017 3:26 pm

"The more silly thing is this apartment block was re-furbished as it did not look right as it is in an affluent area of London"

I think you will find that they were conforming to the new rules and regulations that are coming in to make a building more sustainable energy wise; to keep the heat in and cold out!

As a landlord myself - on a tiny scale - I have to be sure to conform to laws, a new law coming in on the 1st of April next year is that all rented properties have to be E rating and that is one of the reasons for the cladding and I have been advised myself to put cladding either on the outside or the inside of the walls. Also I have a fire door and smoke alarms and the tenant has to have a way out other then the front door ie that all windows open correctly for a quick exit if necessary!

Also it is interesting to note that the company managing the building had eight residents sitting on the committee which formed part of the Residents Association ie I mean the Kensington and Chelsea management committee. A law came in some years ago - I know about it because I did that myself - ie Leaseholders, (not Assured Shorthold tenants) can manage the building themselves and that is why there were eight Leaseholders on the management team! and they - together with three people from the council and another three who were from the company carrying out the "improvements" together made the decision not to put in sprinklers and which cladding to use and made other decisions etc - so I believe - !

However in that situation they would have needed expert advice because they would not know the ins and out of cladding and what type would be suitable. Still common sense would tell you that inflammable would not be suitable and plastic coatings would be water resistantl water resistant is what you want; an outside coating not letting in water, but as someone has already mentioned, concrete and bricks are fire proof and would not go up in flames but the cladding they used went up like tinder! unimaginable really!!

The furnishings might go up in my flat here in Spain however the furnishings are meant to be fire proof! But that is it and I am sure a fire would be contained inside the flat - hopefully -.
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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby Flexo » Sun Jun 18, 2017 5:07 pm

ajtg1952 wrote:
Where did you get this figure from. Foam filled panels are very much cheaper to manufacture than the equivalent mineral panel. For a whole building I would expect the price difference to run into tens of thousands, if not more.


https://twitter.com/tompeck/status/875465866124697604

Not sure exactly if you need the same amount of fireproof panels as the non-fireproof tho.

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby wollie » Mon Jun 19, 2017 7:58 am

"The more silly thing is this apartment block was re-furbished as it did not look right as it is in an affluent area of London"

I think you will find that they were conforming to the new rules and regulations that are coming in to make a building more sustainable energy wise; to keep the heat in and cold out!

The quote i mentioned i heard directly from a presenter on C4 or BBC news.

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby Flexo » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:48 pm

wollie wrote:I think you will find that they were conforming to the new rules and regulations that are coming in to make a building more sustainable energy wise; to keep the heat in and cold out!


Probably in the simplest of terms. Fire regulations in the EU are quite strict and you cannot assume LEED is of a higher concern than fire safety. The fire department can close any building they deem unsafe.

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby BENIDORM » Fri Jun 23, 2017 8:19 pm

Well...this past week has been a real 'eye-opener' with regard to building safety standards in UK, if you had asked me a few weeks ago I would have said that Spain would be the worst culprit when it came to poor building standards and fire precautions etc.

I have asked some Spanish friends who live in an apartment block here and they told me that they have fire alarms and extinguishers etc. throughout the building and have an alarm test regularly.

What is an important issue, in my opinion, is the safety of electrical appliances in any living accommodation, particularly during the hot weather, I noticed , for instance, that the charger for my tablet was excessively hot the other day, so I make sure that I disconnect most electrical appliances before going to bed or going out or when not in use.

It's a shame when it takes a tragedy to make Governments/Councils etc take action to ensure safety for the general public and I'm sure much more legislation will now take place to change shoddy practices.

I know that the 'Lakonia' incident changed many maritime laws and regulations, so hope that this does also happen quickly for general public safety.
And may I wish everyone a pleasant and safe weekend. :wave:
Regards,
Gordon

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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby patricia » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:38 pm

I agree with what you say Benidorm it is hard to get your head around the unsafe practices that have taken place. It is hard to imagine also people making the decision not to use non flammable cladding which cost just a small amount extra and now it is discovered that there are many high rise blocks with the same cladding, also it is hard to think about the non existent fire precautions, like fire doors, fire extinguishers, sprinklers, fire drills etc etc. It is all very shocking. Thank god I am always alert to the possibility of fire. I leave nothing on at night and everything is turned off at the plug. I charge nothing during the night only during the day and if I am going out I turn it off.The washing machine the same I never have it running when I am out. I leave nothing to chance. In many ways it is just common sense, but it is obvious that a lot of people take it for granted. I am worried about my fridge now and when I go away I do not think I will be leaving that on either but instead using all the food up and turning it off. There is always dry and tin foods to eat until the next day after you arrive back when you can go shopping. :thumbup:

It is all very sad and disillusioning and like you I thought the UK would be top of the list and Spain bottom but that is no longer the case :(

Pleasant San Juan everyone. Not one firework let off so far. Happy days :wave:
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Re: How Safe are Apartment Blocks in Spain ?

Postby elusive » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:40 pm

Its all about the ££ in the uk. Profit making charging crazy prices for second rate and what has turned out to be dangerous and life taking material. And according to many reports done knowingly. Who needs I.S with greed and negligence. *sits waiting for the public enquiry to take years and make lawyers millions and for the results to be whitewashed.*


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