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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

City tops list with 236 deaths in 245 fire incidents in 2008-12, says report

 Mumbai has topped the list among 88 cities in India with 245 fires and 236 deaths in 2008-12, followed by Delhi with 185 cases and 186 deaths, a report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) stated. Among states, Maharashtra (1,095 cases, 820 deaths) stands third after Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. During that period, 6,700 people died and 947 were injured in the country. 

    Maharashtra recorded an average of over 160 deaths annually, while Mumbai averages 40. 
    Andhra Pradesh recorded 1,394 deaths, Gujarat 1,204 and Maharashtra 820 in that period. Other states recorded half or less deaths than the top three. Mumbai and Delhi topped among cities, followed by Hyderabad (132 cases/136 deaths), Ahmedabad (130/130), Vijayawada (199/122) and Rajkot (77/77). 
    Maharashtra climbed to the second spot with 331 fires in 2011. It witnessed a rise in deaths due to fire caused due to short-circuits in residential and commercial establishments. In 2008, the state recorded 120 deaths; it rose to 131 in 2009 and 152 in 2010. A sharp rise was noticed in 2011, when the toll increased by 263, but it fell to 154 in 2012, the report said. 
    As per the National Building Code of India, buildings of more than 15 metres height require fire prevention measures, but in Mumbai, as per develop
ment control regulations, only buildings of more than 2.4m height require strict fire prevention measures. 
    Assistant divisional fire officer Harish Shetty told TOI, "Whether it is a plush residential complex or nor
mal residential building, very few follow fire safety norms. Even if safety equipment it installed, it is often non-functional as it is kept untouched and there's no maintenance." 
    Shetty said household 
material and waste are often dumped in electricity ducts. "In the Vikhroli SRA building fire case, if the duct was kept clear of garbage, the fire would not have risen to higher floors," he said. 
    A fire official said most entrances are blocked with discarded stuff and refuse. "We were happy to see that fire appliances were in place but were disappointed when these instruments were found to be non-functional. People should not risk staying and working in unsafe houses and industrial units. Sprinklers, smoke detectors, hydrants and fire lifts often do not work," the official said. 
    Former Indian Police Service officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh said non-compliance of National Building Code of India norms is a major reason for short-circuits. "The least residents could do is to change fuses with circuit-breakers and earth leakage circuit-breakers. This happens even though development control regulation 43 makes it mandatory to comply with the code," said Singh. 
    He said most buildings here are constructed without requisite open spaces, so it becomes impossible for fire engines to enter in case of an emergency. "Most inspectors are regularly bribed, and with cosmetic action, no substantive action is taken. Many residential complexes take things casually as there is very little statutory action to cause deterrence," he said. 
    The fire brigade has been regularly carrying out extensive surveys of housing societies, hospitals, commercials establishments and industrial units across the city. Under the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, it has, for the first time, been empowered to take stringent action against errant establishments.


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