At least 250 hotels with fire safety “shortcomings” continue to operate in the Capital, while “most” nursing homes are operating in complete violation of fire norms, according to the Delhi Fire Services (DFS).
The DFS said there are around 2,050 hotels in the city, of which those meeting safety parameters number about 1,540. Of these, applications of some hotels are under consideration. Hotel Arpit Palace had a fire No-Objection Certificate (NoC).
There are 668 restaurants operating with NoCs, while sanction plans of 880 have been sought, DFS records state.
There are also 125 guesthouses that measure less than 12 metres in height and are not required to meet the parameters as they are not covered by Rule 27 of the Delhi Fire Service Rules 2010.
Nursing homes in the city are “largely” constructed in complete violation of fire-safety norms, as most of them do not have the mandatory exit path width of 2 metres.
“Mostly, residential buildings are turned into nursing homes. Residential buildings need to have an exit width of one metre, while it is two metres in case of nursing homes,” said a senior fire official.
According to DFS records, the number of medium-category fires in Delhi, like the one at the Karol Bagh Hotel, was 16 in 2013; 7 in 2014; 11 in 2015; 20 in 2016; and 24 in 2017. The number of “serious-category fires” in the corresponding years were 1, 2, zero, 6 and 4 respectively.
The last major fire in a hotel was in 1986 at the Sidhartha Hotel, where 44 people had died. A “major-category fire” was last witnessed on June 6, 1995, at Jwalapuri.
“PVC waste caught fire at that time, gutting around 2,300 units. The fire raged on for four days and was doused only around 8 pm on June 10,” an official said.
The city has 61 fire stations as of date. The department also suffers from an acute staff crunch, with 51% vacant firemen posts.