Thane blaze: School violated safety norms, says fire brigademumbai Updated: Apr 20, 2018 23:21 IST
School children and staff were evacuated safely after a fire broke out in Universal High School in Thane on Thursday.(HT Photo)
The Thane fire brigade has claimed that the Ghodbunder school, where a fire had broken out on Thursday, was flouting safety norms by undertaking activities in the basement of the school.
Around 2,000 students were evacuates safely after a fire broke out owing to a short circuit in the basement of Universal High School, Brahmand. The school authorities have refuted the claims that any norms were flouted, claiming that the basement was used merely for storage.
As per fire safety norms, a basement should not have any human occupancy and should be used only for parking or storage. Shashikant Kale, chief fire officer, Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC), said, “The basement has computers and air conditions which were functional during the fire. We have sealed the basement after finding evidence of human activity inside. Moreover, we have also asked the school to submit their documents including occupation certificate and fire NOC by early next week.”
He added that school buildings should not be more than 30 metres in height, which is around seven floors. The school has ten floors, thus the permissions submitted by the school will decide its legal status. “If they are unable to submit the fire NOC, we will decide further course of action.”
Sources from the school confirmed that the basement was used as an art room. A source from the school said, “The basement was not merely a storeroom but also an art room where teachers used to sit and do their school work. Students also frequented the place to take the art material or submit the art work. There were thousands of papers, colours, cardboards and mount boards which caught fire in Thursday’s incident. If a student or teacher would have been trapped in the fire, rescue would be difficult as there was no ventilation or emergency exit.”
The source claimed that the room is near the air conditioner duct and was already in smokes when the school teachers reached there. The fire spread to another room due to the combustible art work. The school employees had complained to the authorities about the room, but these went unheard,said the source.
Jesus Lal, CEO of Universal School, said, “The basement of our institute is used for storage and due to fluctuations in the MSEB line, there was a short circuit that led to a fire. We diagnosed the situation, followed the emergency protocol and evacuated the school building. Even before the arrival of the fire brigade, we used our fire extinguishers to douse the fire. We replaced all fire extinguishers. As per protocol, the fire brigade was called, and they checked the premises to ensure it is safe. We have not flouted any rules.”