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
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.