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Editorial Plus

Fire accidents

  • 10 March, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

Fire accidents

Introduction

  • The blaze in the Eastern Railway headquarters in Kolkata on the evening of March 8, which killed at least nine people, is particularly egregious because it took place in a modern multi-storeyed special building.
  • The fire accident has also taken the lives of a group of first responders, including four firefighters, a police officer and some railway staff.
  • Apparently anxious to intervene, a group of personnel lost sight of their own safety and tried to speed up to the top floor of the building in a lift, perishing in the fire and smoke.
  • The computerised booking system of the railway was paralysed.

Reason:

  • Problem of adopting an incremental approach to safety.
    • The building blocks of safety rely as much on modern technologies, as on preparedness, although Indian cities give short shrift to both.
  • Official certifications that are not worth the paper they are printed on substitute for actual enforcement.
    • Using the Kolkata railway building as a test case, the Centre should report on whether it met the fire safety norms prescribed in the National Building Codes.
  • Smoke alarms and sprinkler systems are an inexpensive early warning and intervention measure, but are not universally adopted.

NCRB Data:

  • NCRB data for 2019, the fire accidents stands at a staggering 10,915,

Steps to be taken

  • To review the progress of the Model Bill of 2019 to Provide for the Maintenance of Fire and Emergency Services of a State, which aimed at modernisation.
  • To make a fire safety upgrade for public buildings in a mission mode plan.
  • Bringing such structures under the purview of public liability insurance, paid for by the respective departments, will provide enough incentive for their occupants to incorporate safety in all planning.
  • Involve third party audits.
  • Drills for offices and multi-storeyed residential buildings will eliminate uncertainty and confusion among people on what must be done when disaster actually strikes.

Way ahead

  • Safety training and technological fixes can cut the massive death toll from fires each year
  • Safety favours only those who are prepared.

Source: TH

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