The BMC has ordered a fire audit of 453 municipal school buildings in Mumbai, but while it is a step in the right direction, a severely short-staffed fire department will struggle to cover ground.
The fire brigade is yet to implement the two-year-old proposed fire act cell, under which 99 officers from the department were supposed to conduct fire safety audits, prepare GIS maps of structures and check fire NOCs granted to buildings. Further, more than 3 lakh structures in Mumbai have not been inspected.
“It is impossible to audit every building, with the limited staff. This is why the idea of the cell was mooted. But even that has not been implemented,” said a fire official, requesting anonymity.
The Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, requires all building owners to submit fitness certificates of safety equipments in their buildings twice a year. This too, is not monitored by the department. That no audit had been conducted was obvious in the Kalbadevi blaze, where the building lacked fire-fighting equipment.