Advancing the Practice of Fire Safety in Rwanda

An Impact Research project to support MASS Design Group in proposing improvements for fire safety practices in Rwanda. Sponsored by The Autodesk Foundation.

Advancing the Practice of Fire Safety in Rwanda

The objective of this project was to provide guidance for developing a contextualized framework to advance fire safety practices in Rwanda. It also proposes methods to raise awareness of fire safety engineering best practices amongst architects, designers, and engineers. This research was conducted in collaboration with MASS Design Group, Engineering for Change (E4C), and Kindling, a non-for-profit organization for fire safety equality.

Over 95 percent of all fire deaths and injuries occur in low- and middle-income countries. Fire-related deaths in Africa alone are predicted to increase to an estimated one million deaths each year in 2050, in part due to rapid increases in population, urbanization, and new technologies presenting new safety challenges. In Rwanda, there has been government recognition of the increase in fire incidence in the country. MASS Design Group, an international architecture firm, has sought to increase awareness and knowledge on fire safety engineering best practices for their projects in Rwanda and, in doing so, contribute to the advancement of fire safety in the region.

Through desk research, design workshops, and expert interviews, an analysis was conducted of the fire safety problem and risk profile in Rwanda, in addition to a review of design, regulation, and management capacities for construction projects. These guided the recommendations for the fire safety management framework and ways to increase understanding of the issues and the existing tools available to address them.

Developments proposed include ensuring multi-disciplinary collaboration throughout the design stages between architects, designers, fire safety engineers, and consultants. Additionally, existing frameworks such as the Urban FRAME Diagnostic tool, which identifies gaps and opportunities for fire risk reduction, should be utilized at a local and national level to further assess the regulatory environment in Rwanda. As recommended in the research, tools like this can also be used to engage with stakeholders on strategies for evaluating the current situation and identifying areas for improvement and investment.

Fire incident at Gisozi Modern Market, Kigali, Rwanda

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