Even as the number of highrises in the city increases rapidly, a panel to inspect these structures for fire safety is yet to be formed. The decision to form the panel was taken after questions were raised on Mumbai fire brigade’s capability of combating fire on top floors of highrises.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had approved the proposal to form an independent highrise cell to inspect highrises, ensure they comply with fire safety norms and maintain fire fighting equipment. However, the civic and the Mumbai fire brigade have failed to recruit members for the highrise cell.
“Every time there is fire incident involving highrise buildings, the issue of pending highrise cell comes to light. Permissions for new highrise buildings and skyscrapers are given, however, till date neither the civic body nor the fire brigade have put in efforts to form the highrise cell,” said Shailaja Katre, a social activist.
Prabhat Rahangdale, chief fire officer of the Mumbai fire brigade and chief of the state fire directorate said it is not true that highrises and residential buildings are not being inspected in the absence of a highrise cell. “The formation of highrise cell is pending. However, we are still leaving no stone unturned to ensure these buildings are inspected for fire safety norms. There have been a few unfortunate incidents recently, however, how our teams handle them seems to be ignored. We are inspecting these structures under our fire safety compliance cell. As far as formation of an independent cell is concerned, we are looking into it,” said Rahangdale.
In the aftermath of the Kamala Mills compound fire tragedy and a series of fire incidents thereafter, the BMC and Mumbai fire brigade decided to form 34 special fire compliance cells to inspect Mumbai’s approximately three lakh buildings for fire safety. The cells have checked 3,151 buildings since they were formed and sent notices to 1,468 of them for non-compliance, primary data from the fire brigade showed. After these notices, 450 buildings have put their internal fire safety mechanisms in order.