The fire in the Brussels Innovation, one of the biggest fire disasters in Belgian history, is already more than 50 years behind us. The building was rebuilt with the utmost attention to fire and safety regulations. Time, however, did not stand still and the existing system needed an update. Lybover FIRE was asked to modernise the smoke and heat extraction system, going beyond the current standard.
The fire in the Brussels Innovation caused a human catastrophe. The fire would also mark a turning point for fire safety legislation. Until 1967, fire or building safety regulations were virtually non-existent. The application or control of fire safety in buildings was inadequate. The fire showed that Belgian fire safety legislation was inadequate, certainly in comparison with other countries. The inadequate fire legislation was scrutinised and stricter regulations were introduced. It became compulsory to indicate emergency exits in public buildings and to provide fire detection systems. From then on, it was also forbidden to smoke in department stores. The national association for fire and theft fighting, ANPI, was also formed in the aftermath of the disaster. Logically, after the fire, special attention was paid to fire safety during reconstruction. The new building was even ahead of the legislation. The fire safety system installed at the time immediately went far beyond the standards in force at the time. But the most recent periodic inspections showed that more and more maintenance and repair work needed to be carried out on the existing installation in order to maintain safety. And that’s how Lybover FIRE came into the picture.
A step beyond the requested standard
On this symbolic site, Lybover FIRE rebuilt the smoke and heat extraction system for the Belgian department store chain INNO, based on calculations according to the NBN S21-208-1 and CEN/TR 12101-5 standards. The converted smoke and heat extraction system thus meets all the latest legal requirements and optimises the fire safety of the building. Once again, INNO goes further by conforming to the current standards for new buildings, despite the considerable age of the building in question. Before the installation could take place, we set aside sufficient time to examine the current situation. A study was carried out, which we then presented to the fire brigade. We also paid attention to the recovery of certain components, which can also be used in the new installation. After approval of the concept by the fire service, the inspection body and the customer, work could begin. We equipped this large retail space with two double escalators, up to six storeys high, with smoke-resistant glass and movable smoke screens. A well-thought-out combination of functionality, safety and aesthetics that preserves the view. INNO is currently even considering the possibility of projecting commercial messages on the glass.
Because of the many visitors at this commercial location, the installation was carried out in close consultation with the various shop owners. The assembly was therefore mostly carried out at night. Lybover FIRE was not in its infancy with this assignment. Even before the new retail space opened in Hasselt at the end of 2014, INNO called on our expertise. As a reliable long-term partner, we were therefore happy to respond to the request to also ensure fire safety in Brussels.