Building standards give us false hope. There’s no such thing as a fireproof house

recent bushfires
Australian Church launches collaboration to deal with natural disasters. Full story: image: Recent bushfires in New South Wales (ANSA)


Harvard, UST, KBP to award best student-produced content on disaster resilience

The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Program on Resilient Communities (HHI PRC) is partnering with the University of Santo Tomas (UST) and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) to award outstanding media contents on disaster resilience produced by students in the Philippines.

“Truly, no aspect of life is left untouched by the challenge that climate change poses and we all take a fundamental responsibility to act in countering the long-term damage we have done. This will require new thinking, new ideas, and a willingness to act with a sense of urgency and purpose. Invariably, it is today’s youth that will bear the brunt of the challenge and will be asked to provide new solutions. This video and radio competition is an example of one of the steps being taken to rise to meet the collective challenges we face,” HHI PRC program director Vincenzo Bollettino said.

The competition, called “PMAC Student Awards,” welcomes entries in the form of short video documentary, public service announcement (PSA), and radio jockeying (male/female), with “Filipinos’ resilience to hazards” as the theme. It is open and free to all college students taking communication, journalism or media-related courses in the country.

“This year’s theme is very important because it places in perspective the power media has to contribute to people’s preparedness and resilience. With media’s development so shall its role develop, too. Responsible reportage of disasters…


A stitch in time saves nine

India is no stranger to natural calamities like cyclones, earthquakes and floods, particularly in recent years as the effects of climate change are being felt across the world. Add to these man-made catastrophes like fires, building collapses, industrial and transport accidents and the list of disasters that test the resilience of our communities is indeed a long one. Ideally, our citizens should be prepared to tackle any such mishap but the ground reality is very different as most people in the country don’t know even the basics where it comes to handling disasters.

The need to build our contingency preparedness becomes even more acute when one considers that a nation of India’s scale still lacks the optimal level of institutionalised resources across the length and breadth of the country for efficient and effective disaster management. It is also worth noting that a significant number of fatalities occur post-event, during any disaster, due to mismanaged handling of the victims by the first-responders eager to help but who lack the basic knowledge of how to manage crisis situations…


Building standards give us false hope. There’s no such thing as a fireproof house

Bushfires have killed 33 people and destroyed nearly 3,000 houses across Australia so far this fire season. Canberra is under threat right now.

It isn’t only houses. Significant commercial buildings have been destroyed, among them Kangaroo Island’s iconic Southern Ocean Lodge.  In New South Wales alone, 140 schools have been hit. Many require extensive work.  The National Construction Code provides false, and dangerous, hope.

It requires new homes (Class 1 buildings) built in declared “bushfire-prone” areas to be built to either Australian Standard 3959, the National Association of Steelframed Housing standard “Steel Framed Construction in Bushfire Areas”, or a “performance solution”, which could be anything that in the opinion of a qualified person complies with the performance requirements of the code.  It also applies to Class 2 buildings (apartments) and Class 3 buildings (hotels and guesthouses) in bushfire-prone areas.

Disturbingly, the code does not apply to community buildings, such as schools….




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