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Railways set to compile fire safety instructions into its system

There were no casualties on Saturday. The Railways has decided to compile all its instructions on fire safety in its system, the various Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) — coaches, buildings, stations, etc — and compile a single protocol, sources said.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | New Delhi |
Updated: March 14, 2021 7:17:10 am
Officials said that prima facie the reason behind Saturday’s fire was short-circuit, or something to do with the coach’s electrical system.

Saturday’s incident of fire in the coach of a Shatabdi Express came days after a Railways office in Kolkata caught fire, killing several people.

There were no casualties on Saturday. The Railways has decided to compile all its instructions on fire safety in its system, the various Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) — coaches, buildings, stations, etc — and compile a single protocol, sources said.

Officials said that prima facie the reason behind Saturday’s fire was short-circuit, or something to do with the coach’s electrical system. A formal probe will determine the exact cause, they said.

According to sources, there was not likely any sabotage that led to the fire.

A Northern Railway spokesperson said the coach did have fire extinguishers, but the magnitude of the blaze was big. “The seats and everything caught fire. Our men acted swiftly, stopped the train, isolated the coach, and evacuated the passengers. There were no injuries,” the spokesperson said.

He said fire alarm went off and that was how passengers and officials were alerted.

The Railways has been using so-called “fire retardant” materials for its furnishings in coaches for the last many years. The material, tested and approved by its standards authority, slow down the spread of fire in a coach, but they are not fire-proof. The fire retardant materials are as per international norms set by the UIC (International Union of Railways).

The automatic smoke detection system, a technology which has been in trials, has been tested in multiple trains.

“Improved materials for electrical fittings and fixtures such as MCB (Miniature Circuit Breaker), light fittings, terminal boards, connectors, etc., are being used progressively,” Railways told the Lok Sabha a few years ago.

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