Despite violation of fire safety norms leading to the death of six in a fire on Wednesday, officials of the fire department said that they do not have the right to prosecute anyone or even revisit the building to ensure that norms are being followed.
Officials said that the department has limited powers, as specified in the UP Fire Prevention and Fire Safety Act-2005.
Aman Sharma, deputy director, Uttar Pradesh fire department said, “The act does not empower the department to prosecute a person or a company that is not adhering to the safety standards. The department does not have an enforcement team. The role of the fire department ends after the issuance of a final NOC. For instance, if the fire department issues NOC to a company in 1990, the department has no power to visit the building in 2005 to check if fire safety standards are in place. Also, the fire department does not have any role in buildings that are below 15 metres in height,” said Sharma.
Officials said that there should be a mechanism to inspect fire safety arrangements from time to time, and called for an amendment to the act.
Sharma said that the fire department’s only role is to issue provisional NOC and final NOC when the building owner applies for an occupancy certificate. The occupancy certificate indicates that the building is ready for use.
OC for a building is issued by the Noida authority only after the fire department gives a no-objection certificate.
“Before issuing the final NOC, a team of fire department officials visits the building to check that all safety measures advised in the provisional NOC are in place. The team also checks whether the fire equipment is functional,” Sharma said.
“The fire safety norms vary depending on the size of the plot and the type of activity that is taking place in the building. For instance, the measures for industrial plots up to 1,000 sqm and that for plots larger than 1,000 sqm vary,” said Sharma.
To ensure that all buildings adhere to fire safety norms in Noida, the Gautam Budh Nagar district magistrate, NP Singh, has asked the authority to conduct inspections.
“Since the fire department cannot conduct inspections of a building Suo Motu, the Noida authority can play its role. I have asked the Noida authority to ensure that the buildings adhere to fire safety norms so that we can avoid such incidents,” said Singh.