Mumbai: With a view to combat fire incidents more effectively and ensure compliance of fire safety norms across the city, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has set up independent fire compliance cells in each of its 24 wards. According to the civic body, these cells will help to bring down the number of fire-related mishaps.
The decision to form the cells was taken post Kamala Mills fire incident, after which questions were raised on Mumbai fire brigade’s capability of combating fire on the top floors of high-rises and ensuring fire compliance by commercial structures.
The fact-finding committee formed to investigate the Kamala Mills fire mishap recommended forming an independent fire compliance cell to inspect high-rises, ensure they comply with fire safety norms and maintain fire-fighting equipment. However, the civic body and the Mumbai fire brigade failed to recruit members, keeping the formation of this independent cell pending.
“Every time there is a fire incident involving high-rise buildings, the issue of pending high-rise cell/ fire compliance cell came to light. Permissions to new high-rise buildings and skyscrapers are given, however, neither the civic body nor the fire brigade keeps a check on fire compliance in these structures. This makes these structures vulnerable to fire tragedies. There are no regular inspections if the existing buildings are maintaining the fire-fighting equipment or are following fire safety norms,” said Madhuri Thakur, a social activist.
Meanwhile, Prabhat Rahangdale, chief fire officer of Mumbai fire brigade and I/C director of BMC Disaster Management Unit (DMU) said, it is not true that high-rises and residential buildings are not being inspected regularly.
“Even in the absence of these special cells, we left no stone unturned to ensure these buildings are fire compliant. There had been a few unfortunate incidents in the past two-three years, however, how efficiently our teams handle them seems to be ignored. We are inspecting these structures under our fire safety compliance cell now,” said Rahangdale. He pointed out that the number of deaths due to fire mishaps in 2018 was 52, which decreased to 24 in 2019, owing to the strict implementation of fire safety rules in the city.
Data from the Mumbai Fire Brigade reveals that 386 people were killed in fire incidents that occurred across the city in the last seven years. Not only this but around 1,498 people were suffered serious injuries during 13,226 fire mishaps that were reported in the last seven years.
BMC has made provision of Rs. 105 crores for up-gradation of Mumbai fire brigade.