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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Just 2% city buildings have fire safety certificates: MC


Just 2% city buildings have fire safety certificates: MC

Harshraj Singh
Tribune News Service
Ludhiana, June 14

Learning no lessons from the past incidents, the state government has failed to act against the factories and commercial units lacking fire safety arrangements.

The two hosiery units where a massive fire broke out on Friday had not even obtained any fire safety certificate and had no safety arrangements in place, said an official of the Punjab Fire Services.

As per a report released by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (MC) two years ago, just 2 per cent of the industries, commercial, educational and other institutes running in the city have obtained fire safety certificates. Also, factory fires account for about 70 per cent of the total fire incidents reported in the city every year. However, the fire safety audit of factories, including hosiery units, many of which are located in narrow streets, has never been done.

After a fire in a plastic manufacturing factory in 2017, in which 16 persons, including nine fire fighters, were killed, the MC authorities had announced to carry out a survey to check the fire safety arrangements in various buildings. But the staff of the fire wing and the MC inspected a few hospitals and commercial buildings and ignored the industrial units completely.

CM fails to keep his word

In November 2017 when a plastic manufacturing factory collapsed, firefighters were seen using wet sacks on body and scarves on head to protect themselves. Following the incident, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had announced to provide uniforms to the firefighters, but has failed to do so to date.

Around four years ago, firefighters had demanded imported suits from the then government, but to no avail. Four firefighters had sustained severe burns while five others suffered minor injuries when they were making an attempt to douse the flames at a factory in May 2017. However, they are still forced to work without the safety gear and eye protectors.

“It is hard to breathe due to poisonous smoke inside the buildings under fire. So, we have to go out for a few seconds to breathe and then return to work. We often face irritation in eyes and on skin in the absence of safety gear. Small burns are very common,” said a fireman.

Besides, the equipment, including hydraulic ladders and advanced cutters, are still unavailable. They are often seen breaking walls with hammer to drive the smoke out of the building in the absence of required machines.

In May 2015, a major fire had spread into three factories at Dal Bazaar located in the narrow streets of old Ludhiana city. The fire tenders could not enter the narrow streets of Dal Bazaar. Thus, it took over two days to control the fire in the absence of the required equipment.


Requirements

  • An official of Punjab Fire Services said they had repeatedly written to the government to provide the required equipment 
  • Items needed include imported fire-proof suits, safety kits, breathing apparatus, hazmat and advanced rescue vans, water boozers, light towers, generators, hydraulic spreaders and cutters, foam tenders, portable pumps, aerial ladders, etc 
  • There is a need to set up more fire stations and recruit staff to fill posts

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