Commercial establishments cannot be converted for residential purposes
Several incidents over the past few years of workers sleeping inside warehouses and godowns being charred to death by fires that broke out in these premises have swung the spotlight on the critical fire safety rule that commercial establishments cannot be used for (converted for) residential purposes
PUNE: Several incidents over the past few years of workers sleeping inside warehouses and godowns being charred to death by fires that broke out in these premises have swung the spotlight on the critical fire safety rule that commercial establishments cannot be used for (converted for) residential purposes. The regulation assumes added significance in the wake of the recent death of four members of a family in Pimpri-Chinchwad and several such deaths reported under the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) in the past few years.
PCMC sub-fire officer Balasaheb Vaidya said, “We have found that the shop where the four family members died had two rooms, which is a violation of the law. According to the Fire Act, commercial establishments cannot be used for residential purposes. The deceased were sleeping on the mezzanine floor of the shop at the time of their death due to the fire.”
PMC chief fire officer Devendra Potphode said, “During the past few years, there have been incidents where workers have been found sleeping inside commercial establishments and during fire incidents, they have been found charred to death. Conversion of commercial establishments for residential purposes or using them is very risky, and is in violation of the rules and regulations stipulated by the BPMC Act and Fire Safety Rules.”
Civil rights activist and former chief commissioner of income tax, Akramul Jabbar Khan, said, “It is very essential that standard operating procedures be followed by commercial establishments. The fire department must be very strict in granting NOCs, and surprise checks of vulnerable establishments must be carried out to keep up the fear of law amongst citizens. Also, there is a need to update the records of the fire department with digital data so that patterns can be analysed and studied for future safety measures and preventing loss of human life.”
In May 2023, three workers from West Bengal were charred to death after a massive fire broke out in a decorative items’ warehouse at Wagholi. In May 2019, five labourers were killed in a fire that broke out in a saree godown at Uruli Devachi. Turns out the owner had locked the godown from outside and the workers were sleeping inside at the time of their deaths. In 2016, six workers of a bakery at Kondhwa were charred to death; they had been sleeping in the bakery loft and had bolted the entrance from inside at the time the fire broke out.