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Fires at Mumbai towers every 2 days in last decade: RTI reply

The RTI reply sought by activist Shakeel Ahmed Shaikh said the city saw about 48,434 fire incidents from 2008 to June 2018, of which, 1,568 incidents were reported in high-rise buildings.

mumbai Updated: Sep 05, 2018 05:31 IST
Steffy Thevar
Steffy Thevar
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
High rise,Fire,Mumbai tower
Mumbai, India - August 22, 2018: Fire breaks out at Crystal tower at Parel in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, August 22, 2018. (Photo by Pratik Chorge/Hindustan Times)(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

A recent Right to Information (RTI) reply, which shows that high-rise buildings in the city have witnessed fire incidents almost every other day, has raised serious questions over the city’s vertical development and if the fire brigade is equipped.

The RTI reply sought by activist Shakeel Ahmed Shaikh said the city saw about 48,434 fire incidents from 2008 to June 2018, of which, 1,568 incidents were reported in high-rise buildings.

One of the tallest buildings in the city is about 320m, which is undergoing construction at Lower Parel.

The fire brigade is equipped with a ladder reaching a maximum height of 90m, which is around 30 floors.

The RTI reply said that maximum fire incidents in high-rise buildings were reported from Zone 3, which includes areas of Bandra, Khar, Santacruz and Andheri; 496 fire incidents, which is almost 50% of the total high-rise incidents; followed by Zone 1, which includes areas like Fort, Colaba, Marine Drive Girgaum and Byculla (325) and then Zone 4 (289), which includes areas like Goregaon, Jogeshwari, Borivli and Malad.

Raising questions on the fire brigade’s contingency, Ahmed said, “Are we compromising on safety due to lack of space. If the civic body cannot provide safety to a high-rise, why does it provide permissions for higher FSIs?”

Meanwhile, a fire brigade official said, “Nowhere in the world does fire-fighting service have ladders reaching the top-most floors of their tallest buildings. Hence, in the Development Control Regulations (DCR), we have made it mandatory for high-rise buildings to have both active and passive fire-fighting systems.”

“We either try to douse the fire or evacuate people with these systems. Mumbai fire brigade is equipped as per international standards,” he said.

The chief fire officer, PS Rahangdale, said that height of a ladder and height of a building have no relation during a fire fighting activity.

“Fire-fighting happens internally, so, we insist on internal fire-fighting systems for which we carry out random inspections and prosecute those who do not have such a system in place,” Rahangdale said.

Another officer said that due to presence of Navy and Coast Guard in Mumbai, the fire brigade can coordinate and airlift people in high-rise buildings.

Active fire-fighting systems include fire extinguishers, sprinklers and fire alarm systems while passive fire-fighting systems include fire resistant walls and floors and easy exit ways.

The fire officer also said there is only one 90 metre ladder in the fire brigade, which is kept at the Byculla fire brigade headquarters.

There are a total of 20 ladders ranging from 25 metres in height to 90 metres.

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 05:30 IST