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.
The 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 inexpensive early warning and intervention measures but are not universally adopted.
NCRB data for 2019, the fire accidents stand 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 is 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.
Safety training and technological fixes can cut the massive death toll from fires each year