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Malls lack trained staff to handle fire

The fire that broke out on the third floor of the MGF Metropolitan Mall on Tuesday night has not only spread panic among people, but also exposed lack of safety equipment in city malls. Sunil Thapliyal reports.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2011 01:44 IST
Sunil Thapliyal

The fire that broke out on the third floor of the MGF Metropolitan Mall on Tuesday night has not only spread panic among people, but also exposed lack of safety equipment in city malls.

Incidentally, with Tuesday being a weekly-off, no casualties were reported in the fire mishap, caused due to a short circuit in power cables. Mock drills conducted by Gurgaon police and Haryana fire service department at various malls in the city have revealed that they lacked proper fire safety arrangements.

The police have also issued notices to mall owners to train their staff and arrange necessary equipment for the safety of visitors.

“A majority of shopping malls are at risk because the buildings are made of easily combustible materials, which produce toxic chemical fumes and smoke. Also, these buildings don’t have adequate protection and evacuation procedures. Though they claim to be quipped with fire alarms and sprinkler systems, the ground reality is different,” said Sanjeev K Saxena, a fire expert.

“Usually roads in front of malls are packed with cars, while other passages leading to the spot are congested. This causes traffic jams, which also increase the response time of the fire department. This can have disastrous consequences,” said Saxena.

“If a major fire breaks out at any of the malls, it will be disastrous. Malls have the equipment but no trained staff to counter the situation,” said a fire official on the condition of anonymity.

On the other hand, the mall administration said they are well prepared to deal with any emergency situation.

“Our mall has a smoke fire alarm, water tank and trained staff to deal with any eventuality. We have all fire safety equipment in place. We also have a dedicated team to deal with any fire-related issue.

Also, we train our staff by conducting mock drills every month,” said JK Gupta, head of Sahara Mall.