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Covid-19 and Fire Engineering

Fire engineering is concerned with the discipline of risk and hence how the risks on COVID were managed is of interest.

The current fatality rate from all flus combined including COVID is well below normal. The fatality rate from building fires is far less.

Adam Creighton in The Australian has published that the expenditure on saving lives during COVID is multiples per person that we pay for saving lives in hospitals.

During COVID people would stay indoors if they feared exposure irrespective of what policy or freedom the government tried to apply.

The impact of fear is thus apparent, irrespective of evidence.

Fear drives politics, regulations, and litigation. It can lead to excessive costs and obstruction. It will not listen to reason. It must be managed and countered by information and education.

The result has been that lockdowns and border closures have been used heavily. The economic cost huge. Many rules have been issued – many making no sense against the evidence like requiring wearing a mask during golf. It is often remarked in meetings irrationalities in the DtS provisions in the BCA. For example, why are there rules against combustible cladding when spandrels are permitted in buildings without sprinklers and it is often shown that spandrels provide little resistance against vertical fire spread? The reason such a rule can exist for so long is that it is not addressing a significant risk.

Another observation is of the approval and production of vaccines in far shorter time than before and the pessimism by some over them. Many said that a vaccine would take at least two years to develop for application and was far from certain to be achieved. A new vaccine technology, mRNA had been developed. It can be used to analyse a virus and design a vaccine within a week or so reliably. This enabled vaccine development time to be reduced by a year and move straight to trials with an untested vaccine less risky than past trial vaccines.

There is a strong role for science in all risks inclusive of fire. In regulatory approvals the science is often overlooked with preference to certified testing. Progress is hindered when unduly approaching scientific problems in this manner. When really, faith should be put in the science.

At Sotera we consider the fundamentals enabling us to produce the most cost-effective solutions for new applications. Our engineers have strong fundamental training.

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