Fire protection norms have been changed in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) new draft DCR, 2034.
The most significant change: The refuge area has been moved two floors up for all buildings.
According to DCR chapter IX, if a builder installs sprinklers in corridors and passages, he can push the refuge area up from the existing height of 22.5m above ground level to 30m.
In other words, the refuge area will move from the 7th floor to the 9th floor for all type of buildings.
The DCR, 1991, made a refuge area mandatory on the 7th floor of every residential, educational and institutional building, and on the 9th floor of every building meant for business, assembly, mercantile, industrial and storage purposes.
This change will benefit builders who plan to construct nine-storey buildings because they will not need an NOC (no-objection certificate) from the fire brigade.
It will also save them from paying premium for FSI consumption.
Shirish Sukhatme of PEATA (Practicing Engineers, Architects and Town Planners Association) said, “This change in the refuge area will definitely help builders because it will save on time and money and curb corruption as they don’t have to apply for a fire NOC.”
However, pushing the refuge area to a higher floor could affect firefighting and rescue operations in an emergency.
A fire official from the fire brigade department, on condition of anonymity, said, “The change in refuge area will put more stress on fire-fighters. We have equipment that will help us reach 30m easily, but rescue operations might get affected.”
Meanwhile, the architects’ body is unhappy with the draft DCR chapters released by the civic body.
“The draft DCR is not as per our expectations. The whole concept of ease of doing business will suffer because there is no relief from permissions. We will have to run one from one department to another to get files cleared.”