Fire prevention requirements for office buildings and shopping centres in Romania

Author:Alexandru Roman - Ciprian Glodeanu
Position:Attorneys at Law
Pages:72-74
SUMMARY

A large, crowded shopping centre or a lively office building represents a significant potential for loss of life in case of a fire event. The highest standards of management and maintenance must therefore be observed in order to ensure that risks are anticipated and the best possible systems for personal safety and property protection are deployed.1 The ubiquitous nature of the shopping mall has changed our buying habits forever, making customers more accustomed to shop under one convenient roof, which also has implications for re-examining fire safety from all angles. Often, the one common element in multi-fatality fires is the failure of the occupants to take the right action when fire breaks out or when an alarm is raised. By respecting imperative norms, the owners of shopping malls or office buildings could not only save countless lives if disaster strikes, but may also ensure no legal consequences for themselves, since adequate fire management measures were undertaken and implemented. The legal consequences of disregarding the imperative norms are extremely severe, ranging from huge fines to even criminal charges.

 
CONTENT
72 ALEXANDRU ROMAN, CIPRIAN GODEANU
FIRE PREVENTION REQUIREMENTS FOR OFFICE BUILDINGS
AND SHOPPING CENTRES IN ROMANIA
Attorneys at Law Alexandru ROMAN, Ciprian GLODEANU
WOLF THEISS Rechtsanwälte GmbH & Co KG
Abstract
A large, crowded shopping centre or a lively office building represents a significant
potential for loss of life in case of a fire event.
The highest standards of management and maintenance must therefore be observed in
order to ensure that risks are anticipated and the best possible systems for personal safety
and property protection are deployed.1 The ubiquitous nature of the shopping mall has
changed our buying habits forever, making customers more accustomed to shop under one
convenient roof, which also has implications for re-examining fire safety from all angles.
Often, the one common element in multi-fatality fires is the failure of the occupants to
take the right action when fire breaks out or when an alarm is raised. By respecting
imperative norms, the owners of shopping malls or office buildings could not only save
countless lives if disaster strikes, but may also ensure no legal consequences for themselves,
since adequate fire management measures were undertaken and implemented. The legal
consequences of disregarding the imperative norms are extremely severe, ranging from
huge fines to even criminal charges.
Key words: shopping centres, office buildings, fire prevention, fire safety, legal requirements,
fire management.
A. What are the approvals required under the law?
In Romania, there are two (2) types of approvals (collectively the "Approvals")
issued by the Fire Authority2, namely:
a) Fire Authority opinion (Romanian "aviz"), required by the planning
certificate; and
b) Fire Authority endorsement (Romanian "autorizatie"), issued only after the
construction works have been completed.
1 http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/2012/11/examining-fire-safety-in-shopping-malls.html
2 Romanian - Inspectoratul General pentru Situatii de Urgenta.
Law Review vol. I, issue 1, January-June 2016, p. 72-74
Fire prevention requirements for office buildings and shopping… 73
There are cases when the law only requires that one of these two Approvals be
obtained. In any event, the aviz precedes the autorizatie, since the latter is more
elaborate and technical.
The Approvals are compulsory and issued for certain categories of buildings
which are found in Government Decision no. 1739/2006 ("GD"), as amended and
supplemented.
B. Am I required to obtain the Approvals?
Companies or individuals which commence new constructions or modify
existing ones are required to obtain the Approvals. The following requirements
apply to shopping centres and office buildings. For other types of constructions,
different requirements would apply.
I. Shopping centres are required to obtain Approvals if their surface area is
over 400 m2, regardless of the number of occupants. If the shopping centre also
contains a food court or offers any kind of food to the general public, the GD states
that the Approvals are necessary for any area greater than 200 m2.
II. Office buildings are required to obtain Approvals if their surface area is
above 600 m2.
In addition, there are certain types of constructions which need the Fire
Authority opinion and/or endorsement, regardless of the built area or number of
occupants, as follows:
Buildings classified as "tall" and "very tall";
Buildings which are completely underground;
A building's semi-basement, basement and rooftops;3
Spaces within buildings classified as "crowded halls".
C. What are the minimum technical resources required for my business?
The specific requirements to obtain the endorsement are extremely technical
and are detailed in the applicable Fire Security for Buildings Normative
P118/1/2013 ("NP"). These may vary depending inter alia on the number of
occupants, number of floors, the number of exits, the width and height of the
doors, etc.
3 Please note that, in certain cases, only these spaces need the approvals from Fire Authority,
and not the entire building.
74 ALEXANDRU ROMAN, CIPRIAN GODEANU
For example, depending on the type of building, one needs to have at least one
evacuation route/exit door per 50 to 80 occupants. The exits have to comply with
certain requirements of width and height. Another example would be the
placement of the water source, the number of fire extinguishing agents or devices,
fire-sprinklers or firefighting resources.
The foregoing is intended as a general overview of some of the key aspects of
the Law and is not intended nor should it be relied upon as an exhaustive analysis
of all relevant aspects of the Law.
D. Legal and practical advices
Last, but not least, we highlight below certain general guidelines, which are
derived from best practices:
Be aware of any particular fire safety risks on the premises;
Liaise with and seek the advice of the Fire Authority at all times;
Ensure that tenants are appropriately briefed and fire exercises are done regularly;.
Ensure that fire safety audits are carried out as necessary and periodically;
Ensure that all necessary and appropriate communication systems are in place to
deal with any fire incident;
Monitoring and maintenance of means of escape, evacuation procedures,
monitoring the behaviour of occupants and adjusting plans accordingly;
Maintaining access and egress and other special provisions for disabled people;
Routine maintenance and testing of fire safety equipment, systems and procedures;
Inspection, maintenance and testing of emergency communication systems;
The appointment of Fire Safety Managers / Fire wardens;