Staff crunch forces state to outsource fire safety audits
The state government, which is facing a shortage in staff, has appointed fire safety auditors, who will help high-rise buildings with their fire safety audits. Bhavika Jain reports.mumbai Updated: Aug 23, 2011 01:09 IST
The state government, which is facing a shortage in staff, has appointed fire safety auditors, who will help high-rise buildings with their fire safety audits.
Building residents, however, will have to pay for the services of these auditors.
The government has appointed 80 licensed agencies. These will act as third party auditors and will inspect buildings that are over seven storeys as well as malls and multiplexes, which are used by the public.
The auditors have been appointed for the entire state under provisions of the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, which says high-rise buildings (24m and above) should be inspected twice a year.
Currently, the fire brigade has nine officers who can inspect such buildings.
The three zones in the city — island city, western suburbs and eastern suburbs — have one divisional fire officer and two assistant divisional fire officers designated to inspect high-rises. These officers are supposed to submit their report to the chief fire officer.
“We have outsourced the work to these agencies taking into consideration the staff crunch and the number of high-rises and malls that have come up in the city,” said a fire brigade officer.
These agencies have been authorised by the fire brigade to inspect, install and maintain the fire safety equipment in the buildings.
“These auditors will be responsible if the equipment stops working. They will be blacklisted and prosecuted,” said chief fire officer AN Shinde.
They will have to submit the buildings’ fitness report to the fire brigade every six months.
According to the law, it is mandatory for buildings to have fire exits, proper ventilation and installation of fire-fighting equipment. The buildings must have to install and maintain smoke alarms on every level of the building.
The batteries for these smoke alarms must be replaced at least once or twice a year. The entire unit must be replaced after ten years of service.
It is also mandatory for building to display a detailed map of the premise. The entry and exist routes, refuge space and electricity box should all be clearly mentioned. The fire brigade also gets the power to disconnect the electricity and water connection of any buildings that default on fire safety norms. Following similar audits, the fire brigade has given legal notices to over 70 premises for violation of fire safety norms.