Fire incidents in Mumbai in 2017: A year of flouting safety norms | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Fire incidents in Mumbai in 2017: A year of flouting safety norms

mumbai Updated: Dec 31, 2017 00:48 IST
Tanushree Venkatraman
The fire in Kamala Mills on Friday that took away 14 lives.

The fire in Kamala Mills on Friday that took away 14 lives.(HT File)

There is a common thread connecting the Saki Naka fire incident that killed 12 workers, the fire incident at La Mer building where celebrities reside, and the Kamala Mills tragedy on Friday night that killed 14 people – a blatant disregard for fire safety norms.

Be it slums, high-rises, restaurants, industrial units, studios or old buildings – each has witnessed massive fire incidents this year. The violation of fire safety regulations has turned each into a tinder box, said experts.

Ten days before the fire at 1Above, 12 migrant workers died in a fire that broke out in an illegal snack-making unit at Saki Naka in Andheri. At the La Mer building in Bandra, where fire gutted a portion of a flat on the 10th floor, the fire-fighting system was defunct. Even in RK studios in Chembur, where a fire destroyed a part of the iconic studios, fire safety guidelines were not followed. A massive fire in the Behrampada slums of Bandra, that gutted 200 to 300 shanties, was a result of the storage of gas cylinders and a huge amount of other combustible material.

Pratap Khargopikar, former chief fire officer of the Mumbai fire brigade, said that the increasing number of incidents is a combination of the authorities’ negligence, the storage of combustible material and the defunct internal fire-fighting system in most buildings.

Khargopikar said, “The National Building Code of India specifies the usage of fire-retardant material as upholstery. Also, buildings with glass facades in Mumbai are becoming an increasing challenge for fire safety.”

According to the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2009, buildings are supposed to conduct a fire audit twice a year - in January and July – and submit the fitness certificates to the brigade. However, this is hardly complied and there is hardly any follow-up on the part of the brigade.

Between 2010 and 2016, the Mumbai fire brigade had sent notices to 4,592 buildings in the city for flouting fire norms, but initiated prosecution against only 14 buildings. A senior fire official said that it is practically impossible for the brigade to keep following-up on cases and checking buildings. “With more than 17,000 fire calls in a year, administrative work does take a backfoot,” the official said.