After a rash of fires in recent weeks, the Fire Department has decided to conduct a survey of buildings in Sector 17 to check the status of fire safety norms, Sector 17 Station Fire Officer M L Sharma said on Wednesday.
“We will be holding surveys in various parts of the city, but will begin with Sector 17. This sector is the commercial hub where a large number of government, institutional, commercial and private buildings and showrooms are located. This year, we have already issued around 60 notices in Sector 17 to both government and private buildings,” Sharma told Newsline.
Four major and moderate fires have been reported from Sector 17, the heart of the city, in recent weeks. These included the fire in the four-storey building, housing the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology, in which two firemen were killed on June 9. “A large number of such incidents are reported every year in this sector due to building by-law violations and the presence of combustible materials. In many of these buildings, corridors and balconies are blocked, records and other items are kept everywhere, and there is inadequate fire-fighting equipment,” Sharma said.
He said that the Fire Department can only issue notices for violation of the fire-fighting norms, but it is the Estate Office which has to take action for the violation of by-laws. In fact, after we issue notices, we cannot order any action against the defaulters.
At best, we can forward the cases to the administration, or make suggestions to the violators, he said.
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Another official said that the problem was more acute in those government offices which were functioning in private buildings. “The government buildings, by and large, adhere to the norms. In Sector 17, too, most of the government buildings have adequate equipment for fire-fighting. By-law violations, however, is another matter. The responsibility for the enforcement of norms lies with government departments, too. Each department must ensure that its buildings are safe,” he said.
Talking about the problems faced by firemen while dousing fires, Sharma said, “Much initial time in almost every incident is wasted in removing blockades, and in dodging through heavy traffic and illegal parking. Sometimes, there is no way to park the fire tender next to the building due to illegally parked cars, overgrown trees and other objects coming in the way.”