Create awareness to minimise human error, lax attitude

Compliance with National Building Code, action against those flouting norms & being proactive can bring relief

There have been numerous fire accidents in the past few years. It is true that a fire cannot be predicted. But if we know how to, then we can prevent it. In India, a lack of situational awareness in case a blaze erupts is a cause of major concern. Most of us are not trained to fight even a small fire, let alone knowing what needs to be done, in case one is stuck in a blaze. Chances are, we may not even be aware of the emergency numbers to dial in such situations. This makes fire safety awareness the most crucial step towards preventing a fire. Violating fire safety laws is common in our country. Most states have fire safety laws that are archaic in nature, but even complying with that should be welcome for a start. Many buildings do not adhere to the National Building Code and do not have fire clearance certificates. We require periodical inspections to check if our buildings are fire compliant. Rapid urbanisation has given way to lot of high-rise buildings across Indian cities. Firefighting in a high-rise buildings is much more complicated. Even the evacuation process is more cumbersome. A key solution is strict compliance with the National Building Code. The Fire Departments are not geared with best equipment to match the pace of growth in cities. They struggle with human resources. Governments need to place fire safety as a priority and review budgetary spends. Never be nonchalant because fire can happen anywhere and anytime. 

Sanjay Chopra, Mohali 

Check all buildings

To avoid fire incidents, the Administration should check all buildings and ask owners to provide practical escape routes and fire fighting equipment. The fire brigade should always be on alert to prevent loss of human life. Like its said prevention is better than cure. 

RK Kapoor, Chandigarh 

Strictly implement safety rules

With blazing sun, fire incidents are a common these days. Due to lack of foresight in planning, ignorance, no knowledge about possible dangers such fire incidents recur. Loosely hanging live wires and increased demand of power during summer causes short circuits that pose a risk to lives and property of the people. The fire accident in Surat forced Administration to come out of stupor and check fire safety conditions in the city only to find these gravely inadequate. Most buildings in Chandigarh and Mohali do not have adequate fire safety equipment or exit points. Furniture markets, industrial areas and even government buildings do not follow the fire safety guidelines properly. Why such a lackadaisical attitude towards fire safety is allowed in the first place. The Administration should take strict action against those found flouting fire safety norms. Merely serving notices cannot curb the problem. Only strict implementation of the rules can deter such a casual attitude. Awareness drives should also be organised.

Surbhi Sharma, Chandigarh

Rise in temperature lowers ignition point

The increase in fire incidents during summer season is not new and has been happening since ages. This happens due to rise in the surface temperature, which lowers the ignition point. Inflammable material, which catches fire, has to be stored in a place free from short circuits. The electric wiring, which generally causes fire, has to be repaired regularly. The Electricity Department must also check premises for overloading of electric circuits with the use of extra appliances. The Fire Department must have hydraulic ladders to reach upper floors of high-rise buildings to extinguish fire. A separate lane must also be marked for fire tenders on roads to enable firefighters reach the accident spot in shortest possible time. The department giving NOC to buildings must ensure that all firefighting equipment and measures have been taken to prevent accidents on the premises.

Wg Cdr Jasbir Minhas (retd), Mohali

Administration yet to take foolproof steps

There has been an increase in fire incidents in the city. Ninety nine per cent fire incidents occur due to human error, careless attitude and lethargy. The UT Administration has not taken fool-proof measures to prevent such incidents. The mercury is hovering between 43 to 44°Celsius this summer. Short circuit by overloading electric wires is major cause of fire. One can see open junction boxes with wires hanging out. The Administration must conduct an electric audit to keep houses, offices, private coaching centres, hotels, hospitals and clubs safe from fire. Quality fire resistant materials must be used in the construction work. No building plan should be approved if it lacks fire fighting arrangements. Fire stations must have latest equipment. Mock fire drills should be conducted to create awareness. Electric wires must be checked regularly especially during summers. The Administration must impart training in fire fighting and disaster management to citizens. 

Capt Amar Jeet Kumar (retd), Mohali

Outdated infra root cause of fires

With increase in temperature fire incidents have gone up manifold. The reasons are not hard to understand. Outdated infrastructure is the main problem. It’s compounded by the fact that so many consumers aren’t on the grid at all. Poor maintenance and leakages increase risk of fire, besides other technical aspects like quality and type of conductors, transformer capacity, and equipment used. 

Rajiv Boolchand Jain, Zirakpur

Cars, buses also catch fire

The need of the hour is to impart practical training to the masses to tackle fire accidents. It becomes a Herculean task to face such a situation when people are ignorant about safety norms. Disaster management teams should conduct mock drills to train people to save lives in case of a fire. People should be taught how to tacklw blaze till fire brigade personnel arrive and take control of the situation. Besides buildings, running cars also catch fire. Drivers should turn off car engines after a few hours journey. Proper maintenance of vehicles is must. The Administration should allow organisers to organise shows and fairs only after checking the fire safety norms followed by them. In majority of cases laxity on the part of the Administration in issuing NOCs for events is the reason behind many tragedies. Moreover, all must be sensible enough and act wisely in the wake of fire incidents around us.

Bir Devinder Singh Bedi, Chandigarh

Dry grass must be cut before summer

People are facing extreme weather conditions these days. The Administration is totally responsible for poor atmosphere as it has cut trees to construct buildings and widen roads in the City Beautiful. Shopkeepers must have fire safety equipment, which should be checked from time to time. Residents must not park their vehicles at unauthorised places as it prevents fire engines from reaching the accident spot on time. Shopkeepers should not be allowed to encroach on corridors. Dry grass must be cut before the arrival of summer. It is duty of the authorities concerned to check fire safety equipment at all places. 

Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali

Constitute team of fire safety experts

The Administration should constitute a high-powered team of fire safety experts. The team should primarily prepare a “Building safety manual” articulating safety measures and provisions for all buildings such as schools, institutions, commercial establishments and offices. Before starting activities at all such buildings in the city, the Administration should make it mandatory to obtain “Fire safety certificate” from the team. After allowing a reasonable compliance time, the team should regularly carry out sudden inspections and raids on all building to ensure compliance of fire safety measures in accordance with the manual. For non-compliance, the team should be authorised to issue notices for closure of activities in buildings. 

OP Longia, Chandigarh

Control source responsible for fire

Three ingredients indispensable for fire incidents are source, oxygen (air) and material. We have to control the source responsible for fire. Short circuit of electrical wires, gadgets and loose wirings are main reasons of fire at places where vulnerable material –high inflammable chemicals or wooden items – are stored. To control fire incidents during summer season, electrical wiring must be checked. Proper rating circuit breakers and wires must be used. The Fire Department must inspect all factories, industrial houses, furniture markets and issue instructions for fire safety measures. The PSPCL must ensure safety of electrical cables and repair dry or semi-burnt joints immediately. As it is said a stitch in time saves nine. 

Deepak, Chandigarh

Awareness can prevent fire 

Fire is chemistry of heat, fuel and oxygen. It converts into accident when anyone of three is in excess and ignition occurs. Worse happens when there is lack of safety awareness and fire-fighting arrangements. The Administration can show short documentaries to create awareness on fire safety. Moreover, enforcement agencies should be vigilant and strict while complying with regulations as per the NBC and other statuary bodies. People must learn that safety does not come with luck. One has to be prepared for fire incidents.

Ghaninder Khanna, Zirakpur

We ourselves are not conscious

Summers do invite more fire incidents. But, these can be avoided if we are conscious and take necessary precautions in time.   The main reason is not only inadequacy of safety measures, but our casual attitude towards fire. Most fire incidents occur due to our own fault.  Fire in offices or shops or houses is largely due to short circuits or when something burning is left unattended.  And to top it, we do not take fire safety precautions. The firefighting equipment is non existent or inadequate. The reaction time of the Fire Department is long. Or, fire engines get stuck in a traffic jam. So, the answer lies with citizens being fire conscious and following laid down prevention measures.  Let no institution building, shop, factory, house or any other premises be considered fit for occupation till it has met all the fire hazards precautions. The Fire Department should be well equipped and its personnel must rehearse regularly to meet emergencies. Residents also need to go through mock drills, particularly in summer months. Unless we ourselves become fire conscious and proactive, no fire equipment can help us.

Madhu RD Singh, Ambala Cantt

Prepare public to deal with mishaps

As the temperature soars during May and June every year the incidents of small and big fires are reported from the tricity. Make-shift furniture markets, ill-maintained godowns, restaurants, over occupied commercial buildings, offices and uncontrolled slum areas are prone to fire incidents owing to scanty provisions to control sudden blaze. The main reason of fire is short circuit due to excessive overloading and poor electrical infrastructure in buildings. Needlessly accumulation of junk and other inflammable material is invitation to serious fire incidents. The Fire Department should hold mock drills in offices, factories, schools, colleges and cinemas to physically prepare the public for such unfortunate mishaps. The Administration should direct the department concerned to verify permitted load to avoid fire incidents. The mandatory inspection of commercial buildings, institutions and factories should be carried out at regular intervals.

Bhupinder S Sealopal, Mohali    

Include firefighting equipment in bylaws

Fire incidents have become a regular feature in the tricity and call for adequate safety arrangements in all factories, offices, schools, markets and other institutions. Regular inspection should be done to ensure that proper firefighting equipment is in place at the unit. Factory owners must get clearance from the Fire and Pollution Departments. The building bylaws must include installation of fire extinguishing equipment and anybody found violating the law must be fined. Many markets in the city like those in Sector 41, 22, 19, 18 and 15 with illegal circuits, kundi connections, bifurcated power according to their convenience, congested corridors and no emergency exit are the risk spots. Stern action must be taken against violators and a regular check should be kept on them. The authorities should also ensure swift action with fire extinguishing equipment, adequate staff and proper coordination in case any unfortunate incident occurs. The Fire Department has been found shockingly devoid of equipment and senior officials must be held accountable for the same.

Dr Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh

Don’t make stopgap arrangements

The markets and high-rise building are sitting on fire bombs waiting for some nasty happenings. The people there are responsible for such accidents. Shop owners block roads and verandas and do not give way to fire brigade personnel to enable them reach the accident spot with ease and shortest time. All high-rise buildings should be checked for violations of fire safety norms. Strict action, including sealing of buildings, must be taken if violations are found. Owners should not adopt stopgap arrangements for electrical defects to avoid short circuits, which are the cause of fires in most cases. If need be increase the staff of the Fire Department to undertake regular checks and drills.

Bharat Bhushan Sharma, Chandigarh

Fire safety norms must be top priority

With temperature being at the record high the chances of fire breaking out go up many times. It is important that the Fire Department should frequently conduct raids at markets, institutions and other places and ensure that the fire norms are properly being observed. Mock drills should also be conducted so that the Fire Department personnel are always ready to deal with any unfortunate incident. It will be beneficial if the public is given tips through newspapers or pamphlets about how they should act in case of fire.

Balbir Singh Batra, Mohali

Misuse of buildings common in city

Whenever a fire incident happens, the Administration comes into action, reopens old files related to violations and starts fresh survey of buildings. However, after some time the process slows down waiting for another tragedy to happen. The unfortunate part of the story is, persons present in any type of building at the time of fire incident, which is well-equipped with safety measures as per the NBC, can’t use these costly equipment due to lack of proper training. Both residential/ commercial buildings in the city are misused by dividing these into small rooms/cabins for the sake of earning more rent with no provision of emergency exit. Notices are issued on pick and choose basis only. The Fire Department and the Estate Office should take all aspects of safety, violations and encroachments into account while checking buildings and take strict action against violators and also against officials, who have swept notices already issued under the carpet. What will happen if there is fire in highly congested rehri markets like Sector 22, 19 and 41 where fire tenders can’t enter easily.  The Fire Department should train employees, vendors and night watchmen to use equipment to douse the flames till the time firefighters arrive. The Fire Department must have latest equipment, which is lacking.

AS Ahuja, Chandigarh

building owners are equally responsible 

Repeated fire incidents are matter of concern as only authorities cannot be blamed. Owners too are equally responsible. Improper storage and handling of flammable material like thinner, foam, varnish and not taking precautions can create a potential death trap. The staff or security at industrial units and buildings light fire to keep themselves warm during winters. It is completely human error, which causes fire. The authorities should learn from such instances and allot proper spaces to shopkeepers for running business, where they can avail facility of insurance in case of any contingency. 

Charu Malhotra, Mohali

No NOC if safety norms not followed

With the onset of summers the temperature rises consistently. With this the demand for power goes up too. The power infrastructure gets overloaded and at times there is short circuit. To a large extent public is responsible because for petty gains they sacrifice safety norms. People don’t install smoke detectors and fire alarms at their homes, buildings or industrial units. They get under load power connections sanctioned, use substandard electric wires and other equipment. Therefore, the authorities while issuing NOC for occupation must ensure that buildings comply with the fire safety norms. The civic authorities must make sure that the city has efficient and well-equipped fire stations. High-rise buildings up to 15 storeys have been permitted in Chandigarh. The fire stations besides having efficient fire tenders and other equipment must have hydraulic lifts capable of reaching upper most level of high-rise buildings for effective operations. It would indeed be worthwhile to conduct periodical mock drills for 24x7 readiness of the fire staff. Each such exercise must be evaluated for the efficacy and slipshod in system if any. 

SS Arora, Mohali.

Remove dry leaves from city

Before the arrival of summer season the Municipal Corporation should remove dry leaves scattered in different parts of the city. The use of air-conditioners must be kept to minimum in offices and homes. Owners of factories must ensure that fire safety norms are followed on the premises of their units. 

Tarlok Singh, Mani Majra

Fire extinguishers on all floors

Emergency numbers of the Fire Department must be displayed outside every building in the city.  Fire alarms should be installed to warn occupants of buildings in case of any mishap.  Owners of buildings must have NOC from the Fire Department certifying that they have taken all suggested safety precautions. Every floor of the building should have fire extinguishers, which can be used in case of an emergency. Expiry date must be displayed on fire extinguishers. Partitioning of floors should be done with cement and bricks instead of wood, which catches fire quickly.  Only ISI marked wires must be used in buildings and other establishments. 

Harish Kapur, Chandigarh 

Provision for cooling units 

Come summers and the temperature rises. In such a situation, fire mishaps are bound to happen. The Administration should take all safety steps so that no fire incident occurs. Whether it is factory or a hospital or any other area, all should have cooling systems so that the temperature can be controlled. 

Opinder Kaur Sekhon, Chandigarh

Bizmen more concerned about money

It is a fact that many buildings in Chandigarh are vulnerable to fire hazards. Most people running commercial activities especially in markets like Sector 19, 22 and 15 concentrate on making money and hardly think about fire safety norms. The issue has to be resolved by the Administration with active participation of businessmen. The Administration should carry out an elaborate survey to detect vulnerable spots in the city. The Fire Department should identify establishments not adhering to safety norms. However, it is impossible to eliminate fire hazards unless people are awakened and adhere to safety norms. In the absence of people’s participation it will be an exercise in futility. 

Rajender Kumar Garg, Zirakpur

Officials should be accountable

Various public and private sector establishments don’t’ comply with fire safety measures. There should be no casual approach regarding the issue.Normally, short circuit is the reason behind fire incidents. Electric wires, joints and load should be checked regularly to prevent fires.  Accountability of the officials concerned must be fixed when it comes to issuing occupancy or fire safety compliance certificates to buildings. Vidya Sagar Garg, Panchkula


QUESTION

The Panjab University Syndicate has okayed new guidelines for residents of girls’ hostels making three-time offenders liable to be expelled if they don’t sign the attendance and mobility register. The same rules don’t apply to the varsity’s boys’ hostels. Shouldn’t rules be equal for all irrespective of gender?

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