‘Sustainable Fire Engineering’ – Important Indian Presentation !

2009-09-08:  It is really enjoyable to be back behind my desk, here in Dublin.  Apologies for the prolonged absence.

Since the middle of June last, my travels have taken me to Turkey, France, Italy, the south-west of Ireland to attend my cousin’s wedding in Cork … and back again to Bengaluru (Bangalore) in Southern India to make an important Keynote Presentation at the 2009 Fire & Safety Association of India (FSAI) National Fire Seminar: ‘Engineering a Safe & Secure India’, which was held on Friday, 28th August, at the Leela Palace Hotel.

My Presentation Title & Abstract

Sustainable Fire Engineering: Fire Safety, Protection & Evacuation for All

India, like other economically advanced developing countries, is at an important crossroads.  Difficult, resource-dependent decisions must be made in the next few short years concerning the rapid implementation of a Sustainable Built Environment across a vast country, i.e. one which must serve local needs and meet regional performance requirements during a long life cycle … one which will be adaptable to climate change, variability and extremes … will be in harmony and dynamic balance with the Natural Environment … and, not least, will be super energy-efficient.

Citizens of Developed Nations also have legitimate expectations.  They will express anger when they witness recently constructed buildings in seismic zones collapse, in an earthquake, like a deck of cards (China 2008, Italy 2009) … or they discover that federal/state authorities having jurisdiction, which are funded by their taxes, are ill-prepared to respond effectively to intentional traumatic disruptions to the Social Environment (New York 2001, Mumbai 2008).  Retaining the public’s confidence in national institutions is a fundamental political priority.

In the case of all new High-Rise Buildings, Iconic Buildings, and Buildings of Innovative Design or having a Critical Function … Trans-Disciplinary Building Design Teams must, at a minimum, properly respond to the Recommendations of the 2005 & 2008 NIST(USA) Final Reports on the 9-11 WTC 1, 2, and 7 Collapses.  In practice, the majority of these Recommendations should be applied to the design of all new buildings !

Fire Engineers, competent concerning the processes of ‘real’ building design and construction, must begin to understand the ‘real’ people who occupy or use buildings, every day of every week, in all parts of India … and that they each have widely differing ranges of human abilities and activity limitations.  Just as they are different from each other, they will react differently than expected in a ‘real’ building fire emergency.

Based on a Keynote Presentation before International Council for Building Research (CIB) Working Commission 14 : Fire and Sub-Committee 3 & 4 Members of ISO Technical Committee 92 : Fire Safety, at Lund University in Sweden … and his fire safety texts which have been fully incorporated into International Standard ISO DIS 21542 on Accessibility-for-All, currently under development and due for publication before the end of 2010 … CJ Walsh’s Presentation, at the FSAI National Fire Seminar in Bengaluru, will focus on ‘Fire Safety, Protection & Evacuation for All’.




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Europe Pretending to Lead the Way on Climate Change ?

2009-03-06:  In August 2008 … I travelled to Bengaluru (Bangalore), in the south of India, to attend a Fire Conference organized by the Fire & Safety Association of India (FSAI).  A year earlier, I had been with them in Chennai (Madras), also in the south.  My own father, Con, had been a teacher in the north of the country from about 1930 onwards, so I had always wanted to see the country for myself.  He was caught there, by the way, during the 2nd World War and could only travel back home, to Ireland, in 1947.


Much to the amusement of local people, the means of transport I decided to use … guaranteeing a vivid experience of the varied local sights, sounds and smells … was an Auto-Rickshaw … a three-wheeled scooter, with an open yellow cab on the back.  It is a common form of transport in the large cities of India.  This was a serious effort … no messing around in the sealed cocoon of an air-conditioned taxi !



These 2 Photographs were taken during the rush hour traffic, early one morning, in Bengaluru.  The roads were jammed solid with traffic … every type of vehicle … crawling along at a snail’s pace.  The driver of my Auto-Rickshaw was bent over the handlebars … always coughing … heaving a loud, jagged-rough, deep cough … 


Colour Photograph showing the View from Inside an Auto-Rickshaw during Morning Rush Hour Traffic in Bengaluru, Southern India. Click to enlarge. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2008-08-07.

Colour Photograph showing the View from Inside an Auto-Rickshaw during Morning Rush Hour Traffic in Bengaluru, Southern India. Click to enlarge. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2008-08-07.


The reason for his coughing … you can see an actual pollution haze to the right of the frame below … a haze so thick, that it almost had to be parted with your hands in order to see ahead …


Colour Photograph showing the Pollution Haze during Morning Rush Hour Traffic in Bengaluru, Southern India. Click to enlarge. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2008-08-07.

Colour Photograph showing the Pollution Haze during Morning Rush Hour Traffic in Bengaluru, Southern India. Click to enlarge. Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2008-08-07.


This is the reality of everyday life on the ground in one of the economically more advanced ‘developing’ countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa (BRICS) – where far too many people are chasing the dream of our reality in Europe … a reality created from the plunder, over hundreds of years, of those same ‘developing’ countries.


This is why the European Union must lead by ‘real’ example when it comes to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation.  But, is it ‘real’ ????


This is why Ireland must begin to properly face up to its responsibilities under Kyoto I, the EU 2020 Targets, and a probable Kyoto II International Agreement to be finalized in Copenhagen towards the end of 2009.


This is why the United States of America must stop prancing around our fragile planet like a spoiled, immature child … and engage seriously with the rest of us.  We have lost all patience ! 



Copenhagen & the European Union … 


On 28th January 2009, the European Commission issued COM(2009) 39 final


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee & the Committee of the Regions – Towards a Comprehensive Climate Change Agreement in Copenhagen.


On Page 2 of the Communication, the Executive Summary commences …


‘ The successful conclusion of the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 is a key priority for the European Union (EU).  Now that the Climate & Energy package has been adopted, the EU must step up its contacts with third Countries, both in the UN context and beyond.’


A paragraph later, it continues …


‘ In order to limit the global average temperature increase to not more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, developed countries as a group should reduce their emissions to 30% below 1990 levels in 2020.  The EU has set the example by committing to a 20% reduction in its emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2020, irrespective of whether or not an international agreement is concluded.  This is by far the most ambitious commitment by any country or group of countries in the world for the post-2012 period.


The EU is willing to go further and sign up to a 30% reduction target in the context of a sufficiently ambitious and comprehensive international agreement that provides for comparable reductions by other developed countries, and appropriate actions by developing countries.  Developing countries as a group should limit the growth of their emissions to 15-30% below business as usual.’







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