A day after more than 100 people were rescued by fire safety personnel from a multi-storey commercial complex after it caught fire in Ahmedabad, Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra on Tuesday served a showcause notice Chief Fire Officer MF Dastoor.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Municipal Commissioner Nehra said that the showcause notice was not served only based on Monday’s fire incident in which three persons were hospitalised, but “we are trying to address systemic issues in the fire department”.
Among the systemic problems in the Ahmedabad Fire Emergency Services (AFES), according to Nehra, was that the department was “grossly understaffed”. “There are 18 fire stations without a fire station officer for the past 25 to 30 years… There are issues of discipline as well,” Nehra said.
Nehra said that the first responsibility of ensuring safety lies with the building occupant and that the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) acts in the capacity of the first responder. “Only when an NOC is given by the fire department along with several other departments or committees such as the lift, electricals, building structure, health, water etc, is a building use (BU) permit given. Thereafter, there needs to be periodic inspections done. In cases where there are alterations/additions made to a building after BU permit is procured, the fire department should flag it since fire exits and pathways will be affected. It is the responsibility of the fire department to ensure compliance. If found to be non-compliant, the fire NOC is revoked upon which the Estate Department will take an appropriate decision in terms of sealing the building. The Estate Department can’t determine (without the fire department alerting them) how an alteration to a building will affect (the safety) of it,” the Municipal Commissioner said.
On Monday, the Ahmedabad Fire Emergency Services (AFES) had said that the building, Dev Aurum Complex, located in Prahladnagar area of the city would be sealed for not following the fire norms.
“The city has seen a number of fire incidents in the past few months and we have seen that in all these places it could have been avoided,” said an AMC official.