Seeking better working conditions, the Mumbai Fire Brigade Officers Association (FBOA) has threatened to stop carrying out fire safety inspections of commercial establishments in the city from the next month. Upset over the arrest of a fire officer in the Kamala Mills fire tragedy, the 140-member association has written a letter to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Ajoy Mehta over their various demands.
In the letter, the FBOA said that since the fire officers remain busy in the firefighting work, the task of fire safety compliance checks was causing “additional stress”.
“In the letter, we submitted a list of demands to the civic administration. We are already finding it difficult to carry out our daily work and a spate of fire incidents lately have aggravated the problems,” advocate Prakash Devidas, General Secretary of the FBOA told PTI.
“Our present system is British-age and obsolete. A new system should be put in place, not only to tackle the incidents of fire, but also for the welfare of the fire officers and firemen, who are put to test 24×7,” he said.
The officers are already burdened with the firefighting work and the task of carrying out fire safety compliance checks is proving more stressful, Devidas said. “Therefore, we have raised this and other issues with the civic chief and given him a deadline of January 31 to solve our problems, or else we will not be able to carry out new fire safety compliance checks from the next month,” he added.
Their other demands include eight hours of duty shifts “instead of working 24×7”, clarity about the rules that the fire officers need to take into account before issuing an NoC to commercial establishments.
Station fire officer Rajendra Patil was arrested by Mumbai police for issuing NOCs to 1Above and Mojo’s Bistro resto-bars, where a blaze killed 14 persons on December 29.
“The way our fire officer was made a scapegoat in the Kamala Mills fire, has impacted our morale and we demand a complete overhaul in the functioing of the fire brigade. Otherwise we may face similar situation in the future,” he said.
According to Devidas, there was no proper system in place to check the compliance of fire safety norms. “It is also the responsibility of health and engineering departments of the BMC to ensure that all safety measures are in place,” he said.