The fire that broke out at the Central four division of the seven-storeyed Aayakar Bhavan in Churchgate on Thursday night has yet again brought to light the unpreparedness of government-owned buildings to deal with fire emergencies.
Inspections conducted by fire officials on Friday show that corridors congested by iron cupboards and piles of stacked documents stacked were some of the potential fire traps in the building. The 58-year-old office of the income tax headquarters also had poorly-maintained electrical wiring.
However, fire officials said that fire extinguishers installed at the building were in working condition.
While the cause of the fire is being investigated, prima facie it seems to be caused by a short circuit. “A security guard had used a fire extinguisher to douse the fire, which helped in controlling it to some extent,” said a fire official.
Despite violations, the fire brigade is unlikely to issue a notice to the department on grounds that the building is old and fire safety measures mandatory for new structures are not applicable in its case. “The stability of the structure will have to be considered as the building is very old. We will send them recommendations for ensuring better fire safety,” said a senior fire official.
Income tax officials said that records pertaining to raids conducted, which are maintained for finalising assessments, are likely to have been damaged.
A safety audit by HT in June last year had revealed that Aayakar Bhavan was the most fire-unsafe building among the six audited.
Apart from blocked and narrow corridors, it was also found that there was no fire detection system installed in the building and public addressal system to alert people in case of a fire was also not in working condition.