High-rises fail to con­duct safety fire au­dits

BE SAFE Fire of­fi­cials say res­i­den­tial build­ings have fire-fight­ing equip­ment but main­te­nance is lack­ing; also, no fire-safety drills are con­ducted

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

It’s not only the in­dus­tries which lack proper fire­fight­ing equip­ment but also the nu­mer­ous high-rises in the city.

In Oc­to­ber, a ma­jor fire broke out in the plush NRI com­plex on Palm Beach Road, rais­ing ques­tions on the safety steps taken by new multi-storey build­ings. Al­though there was no ca­su­alty, the amount of time it took to douse the fire was alarm­ing. The fire, which broke out on the 15th floor soon spread to the 18th floor. Res­i­dents had blamed the fire bri­gade of­fi­cers for the de­lay in dous­ing the fire.

“We are equipped to tackle fire ac­ci­dents. How­ever, Navi Mum­bai is wit­ness­ing an in­crease in high­rises and along with it the safety meth­ods should also rise. Ev­ery build­ing should com­ply with the fire,” said Vi­jay Rane, chief fire of­fi­cer, Navi Mum­bai Mu­nic­i­pal Cor­po­ra­tion (NMMC).

The civic depart­ment has four fire sta­tions in Vashi, Be­la­pur, Nerul and Airoli and the fifth sta­tion is com­ing up in Kopar Khairane.

Al­though it has 32m, 52m and 68m Branto skylifts, one res­cue ten­der, 22 ve­hi­cles with a ca­pac­ity of 2,000 to 8,000 litres of wa­ter, flood­lights and cut­ting tools, the depart­ment has asked more ve­hi­cles. The most im­por­tant re­quire­ment is more man power as the to­tal strength of 130 per­son­nel is not enough. “The only thing we lack is fire per­son­nel. As per the Ma­ha­rash­tra Fire Preven­tion and Life Safety Mea­sures Act, 2009, each fire sta­tion is sup­posed to 120 employees in each fire sta­tion,” said Rane.

Fire of­fi­cials also said res­i­den­tial build­ings have fire-fight­ing equip­ment but main­te­nance is lack­ing. Also, there are no fire­safety drills.

Many res­i­dents do not know about the fire-fight­ing equip­ment in the build­ing and how to use them if there is a fire accident. Many high-rise res­i­den­tial com­plexes do not have a ded­i­cated main­te­nance staff and most of the work is han­dled by in­ex­pe­ri­enced con­trac­tors, said of­fi­cials.

“Most of th­ese high-rises are com­mer­cial-cum-res­i­den­tial com­plexes. They need to have fre­quent in­spec­tions of the build­ing premises by the fire depart­ment of­fi­cials and adopt more strin­gent mea­sures to make their build­ings fire-safe,” said RR Nair, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Safety and Health In­for­ma­tion Bureau and also a tech­ni­cal ad­vi­sor to a group of fire pro­tec­tion com­pa­nies in Mum­bai.

Of­fi­cials and ex­perts said reg­u­lar fire safety au­dit is a must. “Fire safety au­dit should be made com­pul­sory. Oc­cu­pancy cer­tifi­cate for high-rises and spe­cial build­ings will be is­sued only af­ter ob­tain­ing clear­ance from the chief fire of­fi­cer,” said Nair.

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