In Conversation with Gaurav Srivastava, Associate Professor at Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar & Coordinator Centre for Safety Engineering

IIT Gandhinagar has been at the forefront of to promote a safe built environment. Please tell us more about this initiative, especially the new Passive Fire System Testing Laboratory?

The new laboratory intends to enable testing of several passive fire protection mechanisms that help in compartmentation during a fire event. These include fire doors, dampers, partition walls, etc. The objective of the lab is to promote research and development of local products and help local products find global markets by enabling their testing as per global standards.

What are some of the insights you have been able to draw from the various case-studies and research in the context of passive fire protection application in India?

We have found that the presence of good passive fire protection systems plays a crucial role in ensuring safety on the non-fire side during a fire. We have extensively tested the real fire performance of fire doors, perimeter firestops, through penetration firestops and partition walls in the full-scale testing facility at IITGN. While there are many laboratory-tested systems available in the market, their real life performance depends on several factors including workmanship, weather conditions during installation and competence of ground staff.

Do you think the passive fire safety technology available in India is on par with global standards? Which new trends and technologies can be relevant for the Indian market?

The available technology is at par with global standards; there are several local manufacturers making globally accepted products. However, there seem to be lack of availability of expertise and testing facilities which is possibly hindering the growth of such industries in India. With the current emphasis on low-cost housing, the use and characterization of the newer materials being used in such construction requires appropriate scrutiny. 3D printing (e.g. of concrete panels) is another new technology becoming more popular in recent times.

Has there been a shift in the stance of the users of this technology in recent years, is the usage becoming widespread. Which sectors or domains have been quick to adapt?

The Indian market, to my understanding, has been focusing primarily on active fire protection measures. In recent years, the discussions around passive systems have increased. Most notable consultants and builders have begun to adopt such systems.

What are your thoughts on forums like FSBI – Fire Safe Build India, which covers this very niche and focused Industry to raise awareness and acceptability of passive fire protection solutions?

FSBI is an important forum (probably the first one focusing on passive fire protection systems). Someone has to play the role of an 'integrator' that can bring different stakeholders together and drive the discussions and development towards the betterment of the country. It is good that FSBI is stepping-up for such a role.

Lastly, what are the future plans of IIT Gandhinagar to work with Industry Stakeholders including FSBI to create more conversations and action around this topic?

IITGN, through its Centre for Safety Engineering, conducts workshops, training programs and short-courses on a regular basis where experts from different areas are engaged to transfer the knowhow to different stakeholders. We are open to all such collaborations in the future with an aim to enhance public safety in India and the world.