Mumbai fires: The rising cause of worry

There have been over 1500 fires in highrise buildings in 10 years; Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association to conduct workshops in housing societies with the help of the Mumbai Fire Brigade next month

SHEFALI PARAB-PANDITUpdated: Tuesday, May 10, 2022, 10:31 PM IST
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Mumbai fires: The rising cause of worry |

A fire in a highrise building in Bandra West on Monday once again turned the spotlight on fire safety in plush societies in Mumbai, especially because they can afford to keep it functional and yet don’t. Some highrises (owing to their height) are not within the reach of the fire brigade equipment. The internal fire-fighting system not functioning in such buildings is putting residents’ lives in danger.

An observation that is made after every fire incident in highrises is that people spend lakhs of rupees on interiors but ignore fire and safety measures. In the last few months, the city has witnessed fires in some plush buildings that had defunct firefighting systems. In wake of this growing tragic menace, the BMC is planning to make it mandatory through the Registrar of Societies to declare the status of the fire audit conducted by co-operative societies in their annual audit report. Moreover, an awareness campaign called ‘TAJ’ (Tayyari Aag se Jeetne ki) will be conducted for training fire safety measures for managing committee members of residential and commercial societies.

According to data on fire incidents in the last two years, 39 per cent of firefighting systems of highrises were not operational. In such cases, physically carrying the equipment to the top floors of the building is challenging, said a fire official. This is where TAJ comes into the picture.

Further, the BMC administration has also requested by sending a letter on April 28 to Anup Kumar, the secretary of the Cooperative and Textile Department, to issue a government resolution (GR) to all the registrars, making it mandatory to conduct fire audits every six months and declare the status in the annual report of co-op societies.

The chief fire officer of Mumbai Fire Brigade, Hemant Parab said, “We regularly inspect the housing societies and issue notices to them if they are flouting fire safety norms. But if they fail to comply with the norms even after 120 days, legal action is taken. Still, the firefighting system is not maintained by many highrises. So, we have decided to train the office-bearers of societies about the safety measures, which they will convey to their members.”

Parab said the department is also trying to make it mandatory for all societies to submit their fire audit reports in January and July. “We will be using this platform to create awareness as well as to keep a tab on societies,” he said.

Ramesh Prabhu, the chairman of Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MahaSeWa), said, “Highrise societies should have separate water tanks for firefighting, which should always be filled. But many times, it is seen in summer that this stock is used for drinking and household purposes; this should be avoided.”

Ravi Raja, the former opposition leader in the BMC said, “It is a good initiative to conduct training, so that people are aware. But the compliance officers of the Mumbai Fire brigade should go regularly for inspection, too, which has not been done. Highrises in the city have increased but the risk remains the same.”

ADVISORY

Fire is not an outside enemy but created by people. After every fire incident, people get worried about their safety but forget in a few days. Even if fire extinguishers and sprinklers are functional and safety measures are followed, people can avoid big fire incidents.

Prabhat Rahangdale, Former fire officer

Every society should conduct a fire audit in six months and should comply with the safety norms. Also, the fire security of society should be checked every month. Unfortunately, residents ignore their safety. We will conduct a workshop in housing societies with the help of the Mumbai Fire Brigade next month.

Ramesh Prabhu, chairman of Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association

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