Fire safety department officials of the Surat Municipal Corporation on Wednesday issued notice to around 40 hospitals, asking them to produce NOCs (No-objection Certificates) issued by the SMC’s fire department within seven days, failing which the establishments would be sealed. The department also carried out a fire-safety audit in the crowded textile market areas in Surat and directed encroachments removed and changes made to ensure proper ventilation.
The officials also checked whether the entry and exits had unhindered access and whether there were sufficient number of emergency exits, apart from checking whether fire safety equipment were functional.
“Hospitals and doctors were intimated about changing the system, after we found that the fire safety equipment had become outdated,” Chief fire officer Basant Pareek said. “Our staffers also told the doctors to obtain NOCs from the fire safety department after acting on the necessary instructions given. We have given time of seven days starting from today to submit the NOC, failing which they will be sealed.”
Following the May 24 fire in Sarthana in which 22 students died, the Surat Municipal Commissioner had ordered the fire safety audit, beginning with the textile market area, which is frequented by lakhs of people everyday. During the Sarthana blaze, the fire brigade officials had to battle for more several hours to douse flames. Even with ladders that could reach up to 70 metres and 55 metres, they had a tough time battling the blaze in a building that appears to have violated fire-safety norms. Moreover, the fire brigade took over over 30 minutes to reach the spot as they had to travel around 10 km from Katargam and 18 km from Adajan fire stations.
Since Wednesday morning, various areas of the textile market in Salabatpura were surveyed. Officials of SMC Limbayat zone also audited 10 textile markets including Sagar Market and Anand Textile.
“We have checked such textile markets where it would be difficult for fire trucks to enter, and instructed the presidents of some markets to make the areas spacious to enable entry of fire tankers,” Deputy Commissioner of Limbayat Zone N V Upadhyay said. “We have also suggested certain changes to create extra exits at the back of the market for emergency use.”
Existing fire safety systems were also checked, and suggestions given to shopkeepers. The drive will continue for a few days.
President of the Federation of Surat Textile Traders Association Manoj Agrawal said, “We have issued circulars to all the markets in Surat asking them to inform us of any illegal encroachments at the main entrance and exits and in the passageways of the market. We see the encroachments are removed.”
Agrawal said that most of the textile markets had fire safety equipment in place, and they were monitored every year by fire officials to ensure they are in working condition.
The fire safety audit is also being carried out at hotels, restaurants, malls, doctors’ clinics and hospitals in the city. The fire department had carried out similar surveys six months ago.
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