The Mumbai Fire Brigade has issued a notice to the ‘A’ wing of Presidency Tower, which caught fire on Sunday, for flouting safety norms. The fire broke out on the 15th floor, killing Lata Duggal (60).
Fire brigade officials inspected the 15-storey building on Monday and found that the internal fire fighting system was not in place and that the refuge area, which is mandatory for all buildings, was locked.
“We issued the notice under the new fire safety law [the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2009],” said Chief Fire Officer Uday Tatkare.
Meanwhile, the civic body issued similar notices to 74 buildings that included malls, multiplexes, auditoriums and high-rises.
Under the new fire safety law, the fire brigade will first send a notice to defaulters, giving them between 7 and 120 days to comply. Only after that will the department send another notice or take penal action against.
The fire brigade has been inspecting buildings across Mumbai in the wake of the new law for the past two months, issuing notices to defaulters.
“Several high-rises are expected to come up over the next few years. If buildings’ heights are not restricted, fighting fires will be a problem,” said a fire official, requesting anonymity. Tatkare echoed the view, adding that he has asked Municipal Commissioner Swadheen Kshatriya to regulate the height and the depth of constructions.
“The depth of the basement should be restricted to 12 metres or three floors, but the height of the building can go up. It will not cause a problem if they follow fire safety rules,” said Tatkare.
On an average, Tatkare’s department gets 50 to 55 calls a day. There are 33 fire stations across the city, but going by international standards there should be at least 110.
The N.V Merani Committee had in 2008 recommended specifications for malls and multiplexes, but they are yet to be implemented. It had recommended, among other things, depositories outside multiplexes, openings in between long passages and no locks on emergency exits.
Meanwhile, the civic body also sent a notice to Om Heera Panna mall at Oshiwara that caught fire last week. Part of the mall’s basement car park was being used as a godown and the fire fighting system was not functional.