1. BUILDING WITH MATERIALS THAT HAVE REDUCED COMBUSTIBILITY
The complete bamboo poles used for the RSK roof have reduced combustibility when compared to the canes or split bamboo used for traditional lattice roof shelters. This can potentially save vital time to help families evacuate their shelter in the event of a fire breaking out.
2. ENABLING THE RAPID BUILDING OF FIREBREAKS IN THE EVENT OF A FIRE
RSK shelters can be disassembled and removed from the site of a fire extremely rapidly. This unique rapid removal feature is not possible with lattice roof shelters as we have seen in recent fires. It can potentially be very beneficial in overcrowded camps such as Cox's Bazar where an acute shortage of space restricts the building of fire breaks.
3. ACHIEVING THE SPHERE GUIDELINES FOR FIREBREAKS IN OVERCROWDED CAMPS
The Sphere guidelines for firebreaks are
" the provision of a 30-metre firebreak between every 300 metres of built-up
area". In camps where space is severely limited for shelters this is very difficult to achieve and consideration could potentially be given to using modular RSK units that, in the event of a fire, can be very rapidly removed to achieve this standard.
a. In this example a 5 metre wide road runs through a camp. Single or double RSK modular shelter units are built on either side.
b. In the event of fire breaking out the RSK shelters can be very rapidly removed within minutes to achieve the full Sphere 30 metre firebreak recommendation.
c. Cutting the lashings at just 4 corner points enables a single person to lift off the roof, as a single panel, and walk away from the fire. This is not possible with traditional lattice shelters or tents.
d. With community endorsement it would be a practical option to set up meaningful fire drills for people to achieve these firebreaks.
e. In an overcrowded camp introducing this system would seem to be a fair way of setting up fire control measures with minimal relocation of families that wished to remain near to their community.
f. If preferred the system could first be introduced by positioning service shelters ( covered assembly units / food distribution units / medical ancillary units / vaccination units / classroom units / covered wash areas etc) instead of RSK dwellings along each side of the road.
We have demonstrated how quickly the RSK shelters can be taken down and removed. With minimal instruction families can now be shown how to disassemble their shelter and rapidly move away from an approaching fire to create natural firebreaks within minutes.
With an international medical NGO we have also demonstrated how stretchers can be made in 2 or 3 minutes by simply folding the tarpaulin around the roof frame poles of an RSK shelter. These stretchers could also be used to rapidly move debilitated individuals and possessions away from the source of the fire.
Where large scale overcrowding of displaced families is anticipated, serious consideration should now be given to using the RSK for its potential fire safety benefits.
AN URGENT FIRE RISK SITUATION
In view of the recurring devastating fires in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar the need for effective fire breaks to prevent loss of life is clear. The RSK offers a unique but very practical option that can potentially fit in with existing fire prevention efforts. From my experience building shelters with Rohingya families in the camps these proposals would at least be considered and possibly even embraced if shown to be effective. I shall therefore continue to press for a serious evaluation of these proposals by all stakeholders involved with fire safety in the camps.
S. Halbert ( RSK Shelter Charity)
A double RSK unit opened up (MSF training Bangladesh
MSF demonstrate RSK stretcher Kutupalong camp Bamgladesh