646 schools in city not complying with fire safety norms: BMC audit
A total of 646 schools in the city – 125 aided and 521 unaided – are yet to comply with fire safety guidelines, a report of an audit conducted by the education department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) unveiled in a meeting on Tuesday has revealed.
The Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006 mandates schools to adhere to several fire safety guidelines. Along with fire safety equipment like extinguishers, schools have to ensure they have enough space for emergency exit in case of a disaster and a detailed disaster management plan in place. As part of the audit, 1,458 school buildings were surveyed over the past four months.
“We have audited BMC, private and unaided schools to check if they comply with fire safety guidelines. While all BMC schools were found complying with the rules, a fair number of aided and unaided schools still need to fix a few things. They have been asked to comply with the requirements within a stipulated time,” said Mahesh Palkar, education officer, BMC.
In 2017, Saaeda Khan, a councillor from Kurla and member of the committee, had urged the civic body to inspect all school buildings for fire safety norms, in the backdrop of the Kamala Mills fire.
While civic schools were subsequently audited, this year, other schools too were included in the audit.
The report also states that 8,056 BMC schools and 9,645 unaided and aided schools are yet to undergo training for disaster management.
Sheetal Mhatre, member of the BMC education committee, said the civic body should have a comprehensive programme for disaster management, which should be made mandatory for other schools too. “Merely having an hour-long training session will be of no help. Teachers and students should be given detailed information on how to deal with such situations,” she said.
While Prabhat Rahangdale, chief fire officer, could not be reached for a comment, an official from the education department said that schools that have not complied have been given time.
“If they do not comply, appropriate action will be taken,” said the official.