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Fire safety rules: 312 civic school buildings in Mumbai unsafe

The report also stated that while the civic body had ordered the audit of all 442 buildings in the city, which house 1,187 schools, only 319 have been inspected so far and 123 are yet to be audited.

mumbai Updated: Jan 28, 2019 08:07 IST
Steffy Thevar
Steffy Thevar
Hindustan Times
fire safety,BMC,CIVIC SCHOOLS
As many as 312 buildings that house civic schools in the city are not fire safety-compliant, according to a fire brigade report submitted to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) last week(HT)

As many as 312 buildings that house civic schools in the city are not fire safety-compliant, according to a fire brigade report submitted to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) last week. The report also stated that while the civic body had ordered the audit of all 442 buildings in the city, which house 1,187 schools, only 319 have been inspected so far and 123 are yet to be audited.

Moreover, the report for seven of the 319 schools audited is yet to be submitted.

According to the report, which was directed in the aftermath of the Kamala Mills fire on December 29, 2017, the 312 school buildings require changes before they can be considered safe. These schools have been given seven days to comply with fire norms, apart from refilling of extinguishers, which may take longer.

The report has also recommended a similar fire audit for all private schools in the city and suggested that a circular must be issued for the same.

Dr Saeeda Khan, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) councillor from Kurla, who had raised this issue, however, said a fire safety audit, which is only on paper, does not necessarily mean schools are safe from fire. “Most of the BMC school buildings are old and under repairs, and the debris or construction material is often kept at the exit gates.’’ She said that for instance, even if the audit says that a school has two exits on paper, on ground it may have only one. “I have also suggested that all BMC schools should have radium exit boards. There are around three lakh students studying in BMC schools and their safety is important.”

The report states that the island city has 137 BMC school buildings, of which 80 have been inspected; western suburbs have 163 buildings, of which 135 were inspected; and the eastern suburbs have 142 buildings, of which 104 have been checked.

Mahesh Palkar, BMC education officer, said, “There are 442 buildings that house 1,187 BMC schools. The audit is in process and we are accommodating the changes suggested by the fire brigade.’’ However, he added that most civic schools have basic fire fighting systems, such as extinguishers, in place, and they also conduct regular mock drills for students and staff.

A senior fire official also said the audit is an on-going process. “We will finish the fire audit of all buildings housing BMC schools soon. With limited staff, it is difficult to finish the audit within a limited time, but we are in the process of completing it.”

First Published: Jan 28, 2019 00:35 IST