The Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) is planning to undertake a third-party fire safety audit of properties in the city, in the wake of the May 24 Takshashila Arcade blaze in which 22 students died. The municipal corporation will also start online services for obtaining and renewing fire safety No-Objection Certificates (NOC).
“I think Surat would be the first city in the state to go for a third-party audit of fire safety,” Deputy Municipal Commiss-ioner N V Upadhyay said. “With this initiative, we hope that the majority of properties in the city will follow systematic fire safety standards, and that there will be fewer human casualties from fires.”
SMC records say there are six lakh properties in the city, including residential, commercial, and industrial buildings and those of educational institutions and hospitals, but it has only 960 staff in the fire department. This would make it difficult to check each and every property. Therefore, SMC decided on a third-party audit.
Upadhyay said the proposal for the third-party audit has been put forward and it is under discussion with Surat Municipal Commissioner M Thennarasan. “Later we will put it before the standing committee for approval,” he added. “Initially, we will target high-rise buildings and commercial properties and later go for individual homes.”
An expert agency will be hired, which will do a survey of the properties and check whether fire safety standards have been followed, sources said. The agency will prepare a report of their survey and advise property owners on aspects of fire safety that the buildings lack. The report will be handed over to the SMC, and fire department officials will take action accordingly. Notices will be issued to property owners to install fire safety equipment and comply with the other fire safety norms.
Apart from this, the SMC is taking the process of applying for and renewing NOCs online, in an attempt to prevent the public from being harassed by officials, Upadhyay said.
Once an individual has applied for a new NOC or a renewal, fire safety officials will visit the spot, check for compliance of norms and later issue the document.
“This will also reduce the burden of fire officials and save people time,” the deputy commissioner said. “All fire-safety data on the properties will be stored on a server so that we know how many people have acquired an NOC and how many have renewed it. We will supply the data on those who have not renewed the NOC to regional fire officials (for further action). This will also help us a lot. The purpose is to make the city safe.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines