In­dus­tries not equipped to han­dle fires

NORMS NOT FOL­LOWED Not all chem­i­cal com­pa­nies in the MIDC area have trained employees to deal with emer­gen­cies

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - HT NAVI MUMBAI - Sang­hami­tra Sengupta sang­hami­tra.sengupta@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NAVI MUM­BAI: When a ma­jor fire broke out at Pawane in the MIDC area around 10 days ago, the fire per­son­nel took over 14 hours to douse it. Al­though fires in the city’s 3,500 in­dus­tries at Ma­ha­rash­tra In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (MIDC) have be­come quite fre­quent, the steps taken to pre­vent them are not enough.

Two fire sta­tions for the MIDC area have been built at Ra­bale and Turbhe. But they are ex­pected to be in­au­gu­rated next month.

On an av­er­age, fire per­son­nel get around 150-160 emer­gency calls, in­clud­ing fire, ev­ery year.

“The in­dus­trial area is full of haz­ardous chem­i­cal com­pa­nies and the en­tire area is vul­ner­a­ble to fire and work­ers are not trained to han­dle fire equip­ment,” said Suren­dranath Chaud­hary, chief fire of­fi­cer of Thane Be­la­pur In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion’s emer­gency re­sponse sta­tion, MIDC.

The fire bri­gade of­fi­cials con­duct drills when in­dus­tries in­vite them to.

“A fire can be pre­vented not only by know­ing and fol­low­ing the rules but also be­ing aware of them,” said the fire of­fi­cial.

Mem­bers of Thane-Be­la­pur In­dus­tries As­so­ci­a­tion cited that ev­ery in­dus­trial unit is sup­posed to get a fire no-ob­jec­tion-cer­tifi­cate (NOC) from the fire sta­tion of their re­spec­tive ju­ris­dic­tion manda­to­rily.

In­dus­trial units are sup­posed to get their es­tab­lish­ments checked by the fire of­fi­cers or li­cenced au­tho­rised agen­cies, who will sug­gest the fire setup re­quired for the par­tic­u­lar es­tab­lish­ments with ref­er­ence to pro­vi­sions un­der the Fac­to­ries Act, 1948.

“For the past decade, it has been made com­pul­sory for in­dus­trial com­pa­nies to get a fire NOC be­fore pro­ceed­ing their oper­a­tions. In­dus­tries set up around 30 to 40 years ago are sup­posed to make nec­es­sary mod­i­fi­ca­tions as per the fire norms and get an NOC. All in­dus­tries are also sup­posed to get their au­dit done in­ter­mit­tently and get their equip­ment checked by fire in­spec­tors,” said K Jayade­van, joint sec­re­tary of TBIA.

He added that smaller units do not have funds to in­stall ad­vanced equip­ment or man­power to op­er­ate them.

“While big­ger and medi­um­scale in­dus­tries en­sure fire norms are fol­lowed and have trained staff to tackle emer­gen­cies, smaller ones lack th­ese,” he added.

Vashi res­i­dent and high court ad­vo­cate AV Si­vasankaran (for­mer dis­as­ter man­age­ment ex­pert) said Navi Mum­bai is not well-equipped to com­bat in­dus­trial fires.

“The fire-safety meth­ods in the city need a lot of im­prove­ment as they do not take into ac­count emer­gency sit­u­a­tions. Af­ter be­ing part of sev­eral safety au­dits across the coun­try, I have ob­served that most in­dus­tries do not com­ply with the fire safety norms,” he said.

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