Industries not equipped to handle fires
NORMS NOT FOLLOWED Not all chemical companies in the MIDC area have trained employees to deal with emergencies
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.