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Friday, November 8, 2013

90% of bldgs inspected in suburbs flouted fire norms Fire Brigade To Set Up Cell To Enforce Safety Rules

Suburban buildings are face a greater risk from fire, according to data from a fire brigade audit of residential and commercial buildings in the city this year. 

    Inspections conducted by the fire brigade in the island city and the suburbs, between April to September, found that most buildings surveyed in the western and eastern suburbs violated the safety norms. 
    Of the 1,397 buildings inspected in the western and eastern suburbs, notices were issued to 1,216 buildings for violation of fire safety norms. But even after being warned to take corrective measures, only 70 of these buildings filed compliance reports with the fire brigade. 
    Similarly, of the 2,346 buildings inspected in the island city, 605 were issued notices of which only four buildings complied with the directives. 
    The buildings inspected were high-rises, high-footfall areas like malls, multiplexes, industrial estates and government buildings. 
    The inspections were conducted randomly under the Maharashtra Fire and Life Safety Measures Act (2006), which makes it compulsory for buildings over seven-storeys tall, as well as public spaces like malls and multiplexes, to undertake fire safety compliance measures twice a year and submit reports to the fire brigade. The Act stipulates that every building more than seven storeys tall should have an internal fire-fighting system and sprinklers, and a clearly marked refuge area which should not be encroached. 
    Fire brigade officials said that residential societies take fire safety measures very lightly and wake up only when there is a fire raging in their buildings. 
    The fire brigade also plans to set up a special cell by mid-2014, to conduct inspections and implement the Fire Safety Act. 
    Currently, firemen are saddled with the task of undertaking inspections in their areas and issuing notices, in addition to attending rescue calls. The new cell, said officials, will help implement the norms more effectively and encourage frequent checks. 

MOST COMMONLY OBSERVED VIOLATIONS 
Cluttered lobbies and passages Fire-fighting apparatus are nonfunctional as they are not serviced Fire-fighting apparatus not connected to a water tank 
NORMS FOR HIGH-RISES & HIGH-FOOTFALL AREAS 
The Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Rules, 2009, framed under the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Act, 2006, puts the onus of maintaining and documenting fire safety installations in a building on the owner/occupier 

    Smoke alarms should be installed and maintained. Batteries in smoke alarms should be replaced at least once or twice a year, the entire unit after 10 years 
    Display a detailed map of the premises, entry and exist routes, refuge space and electricity box. The holding spaces, staircases and open spaces should be kept free

    Each flat in a highrise must have a functional fire extinguisher and each adult in a family mus know to operate it 
    Buildings should get a regular fire inspection done in every six months 
    Fire brigade can disconnect electricity and water connections of buildings which default in implementing fire safety norms 

PENALTIES 
Penalty for defaulters under this Act is between 
30,000 to 1 lakh 
Failure to adhere to fire safety norms will become a non-cognizable offence and offenders can be jailed for six months to three years 
However, defaulters are penalized only after three notices are issued and if they still fail to comply


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