How Safe Is Your KLCC Condo?
Most if not all buyers of high end KLCC condominiums carefully look at the developers track record, the amenities on offer, the attractive building facade, the quality of the neighborhood, “walk ability” - how close on foot are supermarkets, cafes, transport hubs, and even proximity to greenery eg a public park -an increasingly rare commodity in Kuala Lumpur.
How many buyers ALSO look at the “hidden” dangers inherent in living in tall buildings. These dangers like fires are of course present even in high end KLCC condominiums. But a proactive property management team in your condo should have SOPs in place to mitigate them. I was looking at an old 2017 EdgeProp symposium paper and came across an article entitled “How safe is your home?” . The author Anthony Tee, a trained architect who manages a home inspection company called Architect Centre Sdn Bhd, brought up some disturbing 2016 statistics about the number of fires and fatalities in 2016 alone -over 6000 instances of fire and more than 1000 fatalities, based on statistics from the Fire and Rescue Department Malaysia.
Based on surveys carried out by Architect Centre between 2008-2016, Mr Tee estimate an average of one in five homes inspected by his company were unsafe. In case you think million dollar KLCC apartments are not likely to fall into this category, Mr Tee said even some high end KLCC properties fail to meet the standards of fire safety regulations. Building construction standards also vary., he noted. Mr Tee mentioned that some developers employed building contractors who then cut costs by skimping on building materials, resulting in completed buildings with defects that might compromise safety later. Food for thought indeed. So what should you as a high end KLCC property owner do to find out if your apartment is safe?
1. Find out who were the building contractors for your condo from the developer. Check out their websites for their track record- the types of buildings they constructed, the developers they worked for, and if they hold quality certificates for building excellence. The leading Japanese contractors tend to have a better reputation.
2.Ask your onsite property management team if the security guards stationed in your condo have received proper training on how to put out fires. Do this BEFORE there is a fire in your condo. It might be too late to find out when a real fire breaks out .
3. If your condo is part of a multi use development comprising office/hotel or serviced apartments, it is highly probable there is just a single fire control panel serving the entire development. Enquire if there is an SOP (standard operating procedures) in place to inform condo residents by the PA system if the fire control panel is not located in your condo but is situated at the office/hotel/serviced apartments.
4. If your condo has piped in gas supply, check if the gas is odourless or has a chemical added that makes it easier to detect if there is a gas leak. Ask whether the individual gas supply into each unit is checked annually by the MC/JMB or is it the owners’ liability. Consider also installing a gas leak detector in your condo apartment if you are responsible. For more information on the dangers of odourless gas leaks in tall buildings and the results of a fatal gas explosion in a KLCC condominium in 2011, see here.
5. Fire safety in your condo is paramount. Check with your onsite property management team if there are regular fire drills in your condo, how frequently are PA systems on each floor, fire alarms and fire hose reels and nozzles tested, and if the fire extinguishers on each floor are checked annually and replaced at the end of their expiry dates.
The check list above is of course not an exhaustive list of questions condo owners should be asking . Mr Tee's company Architects Centre conducts building inspections and comprehensive reviews of the maintenance SOPs of your property management team to see if they comply with Malaysia's building codes and regulations. For more information, see here.
For a more in-depth look at fire safety in Malaysian buildings I recommend the book Fire in Tall Buildings by Jelani Abdullah, 2004 published by International Law Book Services. Chapter 10 - Servicing and Maintenance of Fire Protection System has a comprehensive 11 page general guide for checking and testing the fire protection system:
1. Sprinkler system
2. Hose reel system
3. Hydrant system CO2 system (for commercial/hotel)
4. Fire detection and alarm panel
5. Portable fire extinguishers
There are also detailed checklists for daily and weekly checking to be performed by the Condominium Chargeman. The checklists can be downloaded below with the kind permission from International Law Book Services
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