iconimg Friday, September 04, 2015

Poorvi Kulkarni, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, September 15, 2013
The city’s historical sites and buildings will continue to face the risk of damage from fire accidents as the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) and the Mumbai Fire Brigade have shelved the plan to carry out fire audits of the 1,581 heritage structures.

In November last year, five months after a fire broke out at Mantralaya – a proposed grade II B heritage structure – the MHCC formed a four-member sub-committee to oversee the fire audits of heritage buildings in the city to be conducted by fire officials.

This was to help examine if fire safety measures in heritage buildings, most of which are built around the 1930s or prior to that period, were adequate and how they could be upgraded.

But 10 months down the line, the plan has fizzled out with the Mumbai Fire Brigade reneging on it.

“We have been informed by the fire brigade that the onus of ensuring fire safety norms lies with the building owners. Hence, it was decided by the committee last month that fire audits of heritage buildings would be conducted if the owners approach the fire brigade,” said V Ranganathan, MHCC’s chairperson.

The fire brigade also communicated to the committee that it was not feasible for it to inspect every heritage structure owing to manpower crunch.

“Only if the committee asks us for remarks on a heritage building’s fire preparedness, we inspect it and submit the report,” said SA Kale, deputy chief fire officer, who represents the fire brigade in the sub-committee.