In Mumbai, more eyes to stop high-rises, malls, restaurants from playing with fire
In an effort to ensure residential and commercial establishments across the city follow fire safety norms, the Mumbai Fire Brigade will soon be more than doubling the number of staff in its compliance cell, from 24 to 69, and giving them more powers.
The cell, which was formed after the Kamala Mills fire at two eateries killed 14 people in December 2017, is tasked with inspecting buildings for fire safety compliance, sending notices to establishments that do not follow rules and following up to make sure that are safety requirements are met. It currently has 24 officers posted in 34 fire stations across the 24 civic wards of Mumbai.
“By increasing the number of officers, we will be able to conduct thrice the number of inspections we can currently do,” said a senior fire brigade official, who did not wish to be named. “There is one officer per ward who carries out the duties now… Beefing up the compliance cell will mean more officers in every ward.”
The fire brigade also plans to introduce new hierarchies among the officers, who will be appointed to the fire compliance cell, so as to pin responsibility on its staff in case of a fire mishap. Targets will be set for each of the officers as per their designations.
The compliance cell officers had recently refused to issue notices to establishments in violation of fire safety norms, as they did not have the necessary qualification to do so. At present, all notices are issued only under the authority of the Chief Fire Officer. The overhaul of the compliance cell is also expected to end this deadlock.
The compliance cell officers will be divided into departments. Each department will be in-charge of inspecting a particular type of establishment – residential high-rises; low-rises; commercial complexes such as malls, multiplexes, and theatres; hotels; restaurants; and on-street eateries. Departments will also be dedicated to document maintenance, sending out notices and reminders.
The fire brigade plans to move its existing staff into the compliance cell and hire new candidates for fire-fighting duties.