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Window grilles: Traps during building fire?

Fixed box grilles placed to barricade windows of apartments have repeatedly proved to be obstacles for the fire brigade during a rescue

mumbai Updated: Sep 27, 2018 04:40 IST
Sagar Pillai
Sagar Pillai
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Mumbai,Fire,Building fire
Fire breaks out at Crystal tower at Parel in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, August 22, 2018.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

In an attempt to avoid window grilles from turning into possible death traps during a fire, a notice of motion has been tabled at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) general body to introduce a provision of either removing them altogether or making them openable.

Fixed box grilles placed to barricade windows of apartments have repeatedly proved to be obstacles for the fire brigade during a rescue.

The recent blaze at Parel’s Crystal Tower was one such example. Not only could the people trapped inside their houses not escape through the windows, but fire fighters could also not enter the building to rescue them.

Citing this case, Arundhati Dudhwadkar, Shiv Sena councillor from Mahalaxmi, has tabled a notice of motion at the BMC’s general body to remove grilles or make them openable.

“There is no clarity on having openable panels on box grilles or the way they should be placed. There has to be a policy in place in order to have clarity,” Dudhwadkar said.

P Rahangdale, chief fire officer, said, “We have been appealing to residents to make their grilles openable for a very long time. Our fire safety guidelines mention that windows should not be blocked. Also, we have procured required machinery like cutting tools to tackle such problems during fire accidents. However, the house’s security should also be ensured while maintaining fire safety.”

Four people were killed and 27 others were injured in a massive fire that broke out at Crystal Tower in Parel on August 22.

Fire fighters took several hours to cut through grilles in order to rescue people trapped inside the houses.

Pankaj Joshi, director of Urban Design Research Institute, said, “This is a policy issue which needs to be addressed immediately. There is no point in putting these grilles in high rises as it is unlikely for anybody to climb up and enter the house through a window. The grilles are placed for security but it should not be at the cost of one’s safety.”

The motion will be tabled at the upcoming general body meeting which is scheduled to be in the first week of October. A notice of motion needs to be passed by the general body and then cleared by the civic chief or the state government.

First Published: Sep 27, 2018 04:40 IST