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Taj water sprinklers were non-functional

Damage to life and property on the sixth floor of Taj Mahal Palace and Tower could have been mitigated, had the water sprinklers embedded into the ceiling been working, reports Bhavika Jain.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2008 23:29 IST
Bhavika Jain

Damage to life and property on the sixth floor of Taj Mahal Palace and Tower could have been mitigated, had the water sprinklers embedded into the ceiling been working.

The temperature-sensitive sprinklers are conditioned to spew water if the room temperature breaches a particular limit.

The report also says
Hotel security staff should train their fire-fighting personnel to handle fire-fighting equipment during any emergency.

The word ‘Exit’ in bold red letters be placed at all entry and exit points in the building.

Guests be given an extra key to open windows from inside in an emergency.

No storage be kept near electrical wiring installations.

The sixth floor was completely gutted in the 26/11 terror attack and precious lives were lost besides damage caused to valuable antiques and priceless artwork.

Senior journalist Sabina Sehgal Saikia was among those trapped on the sixth floor. The family of Taj Mahal Hotel’s General Manager Karambir Kang was also put up there. Kang’s wife, Nitti (38), and two sons, Samar (14) and Uday (5) also died in the attack.

The floor housed Presidential and Rajput suites, which have hosted many a head of states, top executives, celebrities.

“We have inspected the area and found that sprinklers on the first floor were functional, but there was no pressure for the water to flow to the sixth floor from the water tank in the basement,” said Chief Fire Officer Anil Sawant.

This came to light after the Fire department conducted a detailed inspection of the entire structure a week ago.

“The valves were open affecting the flow of water to the sixth floor,” said Sawant. “It is not clear if they were opened by a hostage or by the terrorists.”

Fire officials said that a few recommendations had been chalked out after a discussion with the Tourism department. “A Tourism department circular has these guidelines chalked out considering that foreign diplomats stay in these high-end hotels,” said Deputy Chief Fire Officer P.D. Karguppikar.

The report states the kitchen area be kept free of obstruction. As the presence of highly combustible material in the hotel was one reason which caused the fire to spread quickly, the false ceiling should be of non-combustible material.

“We have not yet received the report and are not aware of its recommendations (yet)…We will comply with the recommendations,” said Taj hotels corporate spokesperson Parinita Gauri.