Today in New Delhi, India
Oct 19, 2018-Friday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

After Kamala Mills blaze, special cell finds 1,468 Mumbai buildings are not fire-safe

A special cell— formed after the tragic Kamala Mills fire of 2017 — has found that nearly half of the 3,151 buildings it checked were not fire-safe or sufficiently equipped to fight a blaze

mumbai Updated: Jun 19, 2018 01:19 IST
Eeshanpriya M S
Eeshanpriya M S
Hindustan Times
kamala mills fire,Mumbai fire,Fire safety
Fourteen people were killed in the blaze at two restaurants at Kamala Mills in December 2017(Anshuman Poyrekar/HT Photo)

A special cell— formed after the tragic Kamala Mills fire of 2017 — has found that nearly half of the 3,151 buildings it checked were not fire-safe or sufficiently equipped to fight a blaze.

Fourteen people were killed in the blaze at two restaurants at Kamala Mills in December 2017. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) then decided to form 34 special fire compliance cells to inspect Mumbai’s approximately three lakh buildings for fire safety.

The cells have checked 3,151 buildings since they were formed and sent notices to 1,468 of them for non-compliance, primary data from the fire brigade showed. After these notices, 450 buildings have set their internal fire safety mechanisms in order.

“By fire compliance, we mean, has the building has submitted its fire safety audits ,” said a senior official of the fire brigade.

Called form B, all buildings in the city need to submit this to the fire brigade after getting their premises inspected by licenced agencies, the official said. “This is different from the original no objection certificate a building is given soon after construction.”

The parameters that decide if a building is not following fire safety rules include a non-functional internal fire-fighting system — fire alarms, sprinklers, hose pipes and riser systems — blocked fire exits, and non-functional fire lifts. The fire brigade said all buildings in Mumbai, irrespective of when they were built, must comply with the safety rules under the Fire Safety Act of 2008.

A robust internal fire-fighting system at the 33-storey BeauMonde towers in Prabhadevi helped avert a tragedy when a fire broke out last week — the fire brigade heavily relied on the building’s riser system to douse the fire.

Each of the 34 compliance cells in Mumbai have a special station official who conducts the inspection. If buildings fail to comply , the fire brigade can prosecute them under the Maharashtra Fire Prevention Act, after a stipulated notice time for compliance.

Under a special standard operating procedure (SOP) created for the fire brigade after the Kamala Mills fire, at least five high-rise buildings, malls, and high foot fall commercial buildings are inspected by officials of the divisional fire officer, assistant divisional fire officer, and station officer designations per month. The buildings are picked randomly. The inspections take place in addition to daily inspections done by the 34 compliance cell officials. There are 21 such ADFOs and 12 DFOs. Another official of the fire brigade said, “Senior officials are tasked with surprise inspections of certain buildings. The taller buildings are appointed to senior most officials. Allotted buildings are divided based on height, such as building above and below 70 metres in height. Then there are high-rises, and low-rises.”

According to data obtained through Right to Information (RTI) by activist Shakeel Ahmad Shaikh, in 2018 until May 25, 710 fires — from minor ones (Level 0) to major ones (Level 4) have been reported in Mumbai, killing five people, and injuring 20 civilians and three fire officials.

First Published: Jun 19, 2018 01:19 IST