Despite the BMC and Mumbai Fire Brigade issuing stringent fire safety compliance guidelines for housing societies, the Kamla Building (Tardeo) fire on Saturday has set the alarm bells ringing yet again.
The Free Press Journal is of the view that for every planned city, the city administration must have ready blueprints for housing societies in times of disasters like fire and building collapses.
On Saturday, a staff member of the adjacent Matru Building, Chandan Kumar Singh, came to the help of firefighters looking to switch off the electricity main switch and the main regulator of the cooking gas pipeline. Chief Fire Brigade Officer Hemant Parab told FPJ that firefighters found it difficult to handle the situation from the word go.
“We had to deploy around 125 firefighters. Our officers had to do two things – to rescue people and second to douse the fire,” he said, adding that dark smoke was a big hurdle in the rescue operation as workers could not see properly; they couldn’t even breathe. “Our officers used breathing apparatus and carried the fire equipment and climbed 19 floors. It was a very risky and difficult operation,” he said. “People were stuck in the refuge area and screaming for help, so rescuing them was our priority,” said Parab.
He added that the CVC pipe, which normally covers wires, led to heavy smoke as it contains carbon. He said even the sprinkler system in the building wasn’t working. Shankar Vitthal Naik had come to live with his daughter, who stays on the 16th floor, there are 10 members in the house. “While we were asleep, smoke started coming inside the house. We ran towards the door, but were engulfed in smoke,” he said, adding that they couldn’t see anything, so they went inside and locked themselves. “We were shouting for help but no one responded. After some time, firefighters saved us.
While coming out, I saw one person lying on the floor,” said Naik, in whose family seven persons sustained inhalation injuries, of which five were admitted to hospital. Sulochana Sawant, 86, was rescued by her grandson who resides on the 13th floor. She was in her bedroom when the fire erupted. “We were seven members at home, when smoke started coming in from the window. Everyone panicked and Aai couldn’t walk or stand by herself. Her grandson Sarvesh Sawant lifted her and brought her outside. No one used the lift and everyone came down from the staircase,” said Asha Sawant, Sulochana’s daughter.