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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fire safety drills a must for schools

Mumbai: Weeks after the Mantralaya fire, the school education minister has announced that fire safety drills will be conducted in all the state's schools. 

    "A Supreme Court judgement focuses on the importance of fire safety in schools. We will soon bring 
out a government resolution (GR) in continuation to it," said state education minister Rajendra Darda. 
    Following the death of 83 children in a Tamil Nadu school fire in July 2004, a writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court. On April 13, 2009, the apex court ordered all government and private schools to strictly comply with safety measures prescribed by the National Building Code of India 
(NBCI) in 2005 and asked states and Union Territories to de-recognize schools not complying with safety measures. Soon after the ruling, on September 23, 2009, the urban development department, Government of Maharashtra, issued a notification to commissioners of all municipal corporations, directors, the municipal administration and CEOs of zilla parishads to implement the court order. 
    "A fire audit in schools in ground-plus-one buildings is mandatory, and we will ensure it is implemented. We are worried about the safety of children studying in schools," said Darda. A meeting was held few days after the fire at Mantralaya and a second meeting will be held next week. "Many of our papers got destroyed in the fire so it is taking a while to get the new GR ready. By next week, we will try and send out instructions to schools about the rules and regulations that schools must follow," he said. 
    Meanwhile, the students' wing of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has urged the state government to make fire audits at schools and colleges mandatory. 

RULES ON FIRE SAFETY FOR SCHOOLS 

Training to school staff in using fire-extinguishers First-aid kits and medi-cines should be readily available School buildings must be kept free of inflammable material Periodic evaluation of structural aspects of school Mock drills must be conducted regularly 

    Provision of adequate capacity and numbers of fireextinguishers with ISI marking must be provided in eyecatching spots in each block of school 
    State government must issue safety certificates only after proper inspection
    Dereliction in duty must attract disciplinary action

The announcement comes weeks after the Mantralaya fire

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