Don’t play with fire, follow safety norms
An eight-month old child lost his life and five people were injured in a fire that broke out in Malad (East) on April 21.
One person was killed and two women injured after a high-rise in Andheri went up in flames last month.
If statistics are anything to go by, most buildings in the city are throwing caution to the wind and grossly violating fire safety norms. And with 12 fire calls a day, they city firemen are virtually on their toes.
According to data from the municipal corporation, from January to March this year, the fire department has received around 626 alarm calls from the suburbs and 523 from the island city.
Apart from that, 100 deaths and 165 injuries were recorded in the same period, which includes fire and building collapse incidents.
In 2010, 2,257 fire incidents were reported in the western and eastern suburbs, while the island city reported 1,584 incidents.
“The fire calls have increased because most residents are not aware of how to keep their buildings safe from fire,” said AN Shinde, deputy chief fire officer. “When we carry out inspection and issue notices to them, most residents neglect it till the deadline nears.”
With the aim of preventing rather than fighting fire, the department recently issued notices to 258 high-rises and 10 malls for not following the fire safety rules laid down by the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006.
However, it is now finding it difficult to implement the new rules. “Under the fire safety act, we slap notices and if the authorities concerned do not equip their building with safety equipment, then we are allowed to cut their electricity and water connection. But we are finding it difficult to implement this strictly,” said a fire official on condition of anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
According to Sulakshana Mahajan, an urban planner, barring slums, no major fire in buildings has resulted in severe loss.
“But to avoid any further loss of life or property, we need to create awareness among the people. Also, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation needs to rethink its fire safety strategy,” Mahajan said.
According to a civic engineer, one of the major causes for fire breakouts was old or faulty electrical wiring. “The wiring can be easily maintained, but most people ignore it. Short-circuit is the reason behind many fire cases, but people don’t pay attention to it,” he said.