Coaching centres under fire safety lens in Delhi
Delhi Fire Services earlier this week launched an inspection of coaching institutes in the capital to prevent a rerun of Surat-like fire tragedy in the city.
On May 24, at least 22 students were killed, either due to suffocation or falling off the windows in an attempt to escape after a four-storey commercial complex housing a coaching institute in Surat’s Sarthana area had caught fire.
At least 20 people were injured in the incident.
The inspection, which was launched last Monday, has revealed the murkier state of fire safety at coaching centres in the national capital, fire officials said.
All 13 coaching institutes that the fire department has so far inspected were found to be violating fire safety norms, officials said.
“In all 13 building that we have inspected so far, fire safety norms were not being adhered to. While most of them had same entry and exit points, many had staircases narrower than permitted. The institutes were also found lacking firefighting equipment and some had building structural flaws too. In most of tragic fire incidents, where lives are lost, these small, often neglected lapses contribute in a major way in adding up to the scale of the tragedy,” the officer said.
Chief fire officer of Delhi Fire Services, Atul Garg confirmed that violations had been found in the coaching centres. Garg said that the inspections were carried after giving notices to the coaching centres. “Necessary legal actions will follow,” he said.
The inspection was carried after the Delhi government ordered immediate inspection of all buildings housing coaching centres across the city on May 26.
A senior officer from the Delhi Fire Services who is part of the inspecting team, said they started inspection of coaching institutes a day after receiving the government’s order.
The officer added that since buildings with a height of less than 15 metres are not covered under the Delhi Fire Services Act, they have started with taller buildings that house coaching centres.
Garg said that inspection of coaching institutes is a challenge as so far these centres needed no permission from the fire department to operate.
The fire department is also exploring the possibility of bringing under its purview buildings whose height is less than 15 metres and house coaching centres, said a senior fire official.
“Since there is no count of the total number of coaching centres in Delhi available, we have started with areas which are considered to be a hub of coaching centres. In the first phase of inspection we have started from Karol Bagh, Mukhrjee Nagar, Laxmi Nagar and Kalu
Sarai. These areas have coaching centres being run in large numbers,” said the officer, who did not wish to be named.
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