The Flemish Government (through their departments VIPA and EWI) has allocated two studies for the design and execution of a large-scale fire test program to Warringtonfire Ghent, with Pieter Poppe as project manager. Both studies, amongst other things, focus on smoke control in residential care buildings.
In recent designs for residential care buildings, a rapid transition towards a structure in which the common areas are considered part of the evacuation routes has been observed. Since these common areas may currently include combustible materials (e.g. kitchen, sofas, etc.), a possible fire hazard is inherent in these evacuation routes; something currently not covered within the concept of the current (Belgian) fire safety regulations.
From this, it has been established that there is currently no substantiated framework to effectively deploy alternative (equivalent) fire safety measures to secure a safe evacuation.
This, along with the findings of the first VIPA study completed in 2016, made it clear that further research on smoke control in the case of the evacuation of non-self-reliant people was required. It also affirmed the need for a more in-depth assessment regarding the effectiveness of other smoke control measures not covered by the first VIPA-study, which gave way to VIPA2.
Both VIPA studies are part of a large-scale study (performed by the University of Ghent) in which a total fire safety concept of residential care buildings has been developed, assisting in creating an effective evacuation strategy for self-reliant or non-self-reliant, young people, adults and the elderly present in residential care buildings.