Byggeregler og brannsikkerhet i Libanon
Libanesiske standarder utarbeides av den tekniske etaten i ”The Lebanese Standards Institusjon”, og disse standardene er i prinsippet frivillige. Av hensyn til folkehelse, offentlig sikkerhet eller nasjonal interesse, kan imidlertid myndighetene gjøre en slik standard obligatorisk.
Lebanon’s building code, most recently amended in 2004, requires new construction safeguards against fires, earthquakes and collapse risks The Lebanese Standards Institution (LIBNOR) is a public institution attached to the Ministry of Industry. It was established in 23-7-1962 by a law giving it solely the right to prepare, publish and amend national standards, as well as to grant the Lebanese Conformity Mark NL.
Lebanese standards are prepared by technical committees formed by LIBNOR. They include setting the dimensions, conventions, symbols, and the definition of products quality, as well as the methods of testing and analysis. They also include the codes of practice for professional and structural work.
Lebanese standards are voluntary in principle. However, for reasons of public health, public safety or national interest, a standard can be rendered mandatory by a decree from the council of ministers. Those standards are applicable to new buildings only, since 2012. The requirements are stated within the NL (Norme Libanaise – Lebanese Norm) NL 147:2016.
Designs must incorporate measures to control the spread of a fire, channel smoke out of the building and allow occupants to escape quickly. The code also mandates that builders use fire-resistant materials and install fire alarms and retardant systems.
The problem is that authorities do not exercise oversight of the code’s implementation, as no inspection takes place. The responsibility instead falls to the country’s Order of Engineers and Architects. By law, an owner must have an engineer registered with the Order to verify that plans are up to code, and thus receiving a construction permit before initiating any construction work, which in turn does not require any inspections after construction, and thus no one makes sure that fire standards are in place. However, insurance companies mandate the application of fire safety standards before issuing fire insurance policies, depending on the policy required and the type of building at hand, and contract owners must pass annual inspections annually to maintain their coverage.
In Lebanon, any construction project shall have its Fire Safety aspects designed in accordance with either the French Norms or the American Norms. This occurs while taking into consideration the requirements of the National annex; However, mixing between the two set of Norms is strictly forbidden.
The national Requirements are those that have priority over others. For example, these include that every building should have a plasticized Instruction panel at ground floor level visible on entrance, for fire fighters use. This would includie, as a minimum, general drawings showing exit staircases, fire pumps location, the principles of the fire fighting systems of the building, which norms were adopted for the design (French or NFPA), smoke Management risers and sequence of operations, and firefighting risers’ diagrams, extinguisher, etc. Also, all medium-rise buildings and above (above 6 floors – thus those which entail an elevator according to Lebanese construction law) are required to be equipped with an external fire exit stairways, in which the farthest distance to reach the stairs is 30 meters, before the necessity of adding another staircase. For external escape routes and staircases of buildings, the guard rails should have a minimum height of 1.1m.
Regulations for different purpose groups/ usage of buildings
Whenever storages are located in residential buildings and used for commercial purposes, there should be one independent and protected fire fighters’ access with a minimum width of 1.10 m exiting directly to an accessible road; this access, serving only the storage part, shall be protected on every storage level by fire rated doors and shall be located as remotely as possible from the building entrance. This requirement is not mandatory in case there are two staircases for the storage with one leading directly outside the building
External fire fighting requirements
Generally, existing roads should be sufficient for reaching all around the facades of a building. However, when new roads are needed to reach the façade of a new project, they should be able to satisfy some extra characteristics. These include minimum road widths and clear heights at all locations, as well as being able to
support the fire fighting vehicles weight. The requirements also refer to internal curves of road dimaters, slope, and clear markings of the roads.
Compartmentation can be one of the issues that are not fully addressed in the Lebanese construction law. However, special hazard rooms in basements are always required to have minimum fire resistance rating and methods for easy exit for maintenance personnel. Also, extinguishing systems and smoke extraction are sometimes required. For the protection of fire brigade personnel, a clear protected access and exit to and from these rooms is also reqiuired.
In case the NFPA is being applied for a project, the landing doors fire rating requirements of the lifts’ doors shall be tested according to the Lebanese standards if they exist; otherwise they shall be tested according to EN 81- 58 standards. The rating and duration should be as specified in the applicable NFPA codes.
Electrical Transformers rooms should be located above ground whenever possible; otherwise if it is in the basement it should be separated from the car park or from other occupancy by fire resisting construction. It should also have an independent natural ventilation system through fire rated shafts linked directly to the exterior (one shaft for air inlet and another shaft for air outlet). As most Lebanese apartment buildings have basements that includes such usages, this part is essential. As for the choice of specific suppression systems, it merely depends on the contents and type of buildings that is being dealt with.
Parking structure shall be separated by walls, partitions, floors, or floor-ceiling assemblies with a fire resisting construction. The required rating can be reduced if the parking structure is protected throughout by an automatic sprinkler system. Offices or similar spaces that are related to the operation of the parking structure and with small areas should be separated from the parking areas by walls or partitions that resist the passage of smoke.
Unfortunately, as the Lebanese regulations specific to fire safety are not mandatory, they are not always applied, especially in residential buildings where insurance companies are usually not involved. However, things are changing and there is an overall increasing awareness to the importance of fire safety, whether in protecting life safety or even in property protection. In hopes that things keep on advancing in the right direction, we wait and we advocate.