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Friday, April 4, 2008

the most hazardous area in Mumbai


A fire department survey of 528 industrial complexes across the city throws up a very scary surprise

Kamala Mills, one of the biggest office spaces in the city where over 10,000 people work every day, has been dubbed the most hazardous area in Mumbai by the fire brigade. In a survey of 528 industrial units in the city conducted in the wake of the Retiwala Industrial Estate fire in Byculla that claimed 10 lives, the Mumbai fire office found that almost all of them brazenly flouted fire safety norms. But the Kamala Mills compound, which houses offices like those of ICICI, Hathaway Cables and HDFC apart from restaurants and hangout joints, was the worst offender.
This is why you need to be afraid when you're in the compound:

Most fire escape balconies in the 'B' and 'C' wings (the compound has three wings, A, B, C) have been covered either with glass sheets or ACs, according to chief fire officer Anil Sawant. Some offices have also locked the way to the staircase from the galleries, thus blocking the legitimate route of escape during fire.
Basements of buildings have been used for storing inflammable material. This is not only risky but illegal, Sawant said. Hazardous substances have also ben stored in lofts built beyond permissible limits. 3 Fire installations in buildings like fire alarms and other equipment are not in working condition. In fact, water sprinklers are not to be seen anywhere. 4) The corridors not only have wires hanging dangerously but are partly blocked by batteries and other stuff that has been stored. “This is very dangerous. If there’s fire, these batteries will explode and block the only escape route,” said an officer who inspected the compound on April 2.
5) Office garbage has been dumped along staircases, posing obstacles in the escape path, and mandatory ventilators on staircases have been blocked with bricks, so there is no way smoke can get out. “Staircase is the only route of escape in case of fire. If that gets filled with smoke, people will die of suffocation,” an officer said.
6) Certain offices have broken walls between two compartments to expand office space. “You can’t have single open space sprawling across more than 750 sqm. Beyond this there should be walls compartmentalising the space. This prevents fire from spreading. But we found some offices sprawling across 5,000 sqm,” an officer pointed out.
7) The mandatory open space around buildings, used by the fire brigade to place fire engines and tankers, is being used for parking of vehicles. “Open spaces are important to enable us to fight fire. If we don’t reach the building properly, how are we going to douse the fire and save people?” asked Sawant. In the middle of a building’s lobby, which is supposed to be open for free public movement, there stands a restaurant, fire officers said.
Sawant said his office will send a notice to the management of the compound soon and ensure punitive action is taken if they do not follow directions.
The other big industrial units found violating rules are Municipal Industrial Estate on Bapti Road in South Mumbai, Dhobi Wadi Industrial Estate in Thakurdwar, Bhuleshwar, Kheera Nagar Industrial Estate in Santacruz (west) and Ratnajyoti Industrial Estate on Irla Cross Road in Andheri.
Sawant said, “We found none of the industrial units have any regard for fire safety norms, and Kamala Mills is the worst. Flouting all rules they have converted their buildings into fire traps. We will send notices to all of them and cancel their licences if they do not carry out corrections.”

Batteries stored in corridors could explode if there is a fire

Fire escape balconies have been covered with ACs or glass sheets

Inflammable material has been stored in basements


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