Less than 1% of Mumbai’s 2.98 lakh buildings are fire compliant
The list includes shopping malls, multiplexes, restaurants, educational institutions, commercial complexes and housing societiesmumbai Updated: Jan 18, 2018 08:42 IST
Less than 1% of the 2.98 lakh odd buildings in the city are fire compliant, according to the fire brigade’s data.
They include shopping malls, multiplexes, restaurants, educational institutions, commercial complexes and housing societies. According to the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measure Act (generally called as fire act), existing building owners are supposed to contact licenced agencies to conduct regular maintenance checks of their fire safety systems, twice a year.
They are then supposed to submit the audit certificate to the fire brigade. Such checks are
the building owner’s responsibility. They validate that the buildings have their fire-fighting systems in place, and help the fire brigade maintain data of compliant buildings.
However, according to P Rahangdale, chief fire officer of the city, “Less than 1,000 buildings approach the licenced agencies to maintain their fire-fighting systems, and even that figure is an overestimation. About 0.2% to 0.5% buildings submit their certificates. Establishments are very negligent. In most of the major fires that have occurred in the past few months, fire-fighting systems were installed, but were not functioning.”
The fire compliance certificates are supposed to be submitted to the fire brigade in January and July each year.
The fire brigade has empaneled more than 400 licenced agencies, which examine the fire-fighting systems biannually. When a new building is being constructed, it is supposed to approach the licenced agencies and get fire systems installed, as per the fire act. Proof of this is then submitted to the fire brigade, which issues a fire no-objection certificate. After this, the owner of the building is supposed to approach the agency biannually for maintenance of the system. However, this second part of the procedure is rarely carried out by buildings.
A senior official of the fire brigade said, “Sometimes, we get these certificates in single digits. Malls, multiplexes, schools, educational institutions and health clinics see heavy footfall, but even they are non-responsive.” Incidents in the recent past where the fire brigade found that building owners had not done these regular audits include the La Mer building, where a fire occurred in the house of former cricketer and Member of Parliament Sachin Tendulkar in October; and the iconic RK Studio, which was partly gutted by a fire in September.
The issue of fire safety of various structures is under focus following the December 29 fire at two restaurants in Kamala Mills that claimed 14 lives. In a knee-jerk reaction, the civic body has formed a cell of 34 inspection officers to ensure that fire safety rules are followed in structures in the city.
Even with this new fire cell set to become operational from Thursday, the 34 officials will act like policemen and help enforce the rules. Regular maintenance is still the owner’s job.
The fire brigade will soon introduce a new software called the ‘building inspection system’, which will help keep an automated tab on fire compliance of buildings. If a building fails to submit biannual compliance certificates, an automated reminder and follow-up notices will be sent to the owners from this software.