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BHANDARA FIRE- THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION

While the news channels were busy with farmers’ agitation, vaccine rollout and corona stats, we suddenly saw a breaking news on most mainstream news channels that took us away, momentarily of course, from all that. 10 new born babies had died in a hospital fire in Bhandara in Maharashtra.

Fire accidents are the most prominent and frequent killer disasters and history has proven it time and again. Irrespective of region, terrain, country, weather or anything else, no one can claim exemption from being a possible, or probable, fire accident target 24x7. The Bhandara incident is only reported extensively as it counts as a ‘newsworthy’ fire. The horror of new borns roasted to death, helpless and blameless, in a children’s ward in a hospital is headline news. But if god forbid, some family in some small house or villa falls victim to a fire by say a cylinder burst or a short circuit, it may not make news at all. Because it would be one of many such things happening every day somewhere or the other.

So, what do we do? Well, we blame the system, we curse the government, we stop believing in God and become rebels for a very noble cause. But again, momentarily.  Our response was exactly the same in the case of the Kamala Mills fire in Mumbai. And then again remember those videos from Gujarat where students were leaping to their deaths from a coaching institute that was ablaze? Or the ESIC hospital fire?  So how are we any different from those ones to this one? Do we need to be different to actually make a difference? That is a question we need to ask.

After you are done with cursing, blaming, shaming and naming, look inwards, that office you own, or even work at. That building you live in- as a tenant or owner. That factory that gives your family bread and butter or even that room you share with two others as you struggle to make a living.  Is it fire safe in the real sense? And if it is not, can you or rather, will you do something about it?

Coming back to the Bhandara fire, let us do a fact check –Kaun Banega Crorepati style.

SO YOUR QUESTION IS THIS:

Which was the fire safety protocol that was ignored resulting in the tragedy?

Your options are A- The hospital was built in 2015, and only one mock drill has taken place in all these years. B- Staff was not trained for emergency situations. C-there was only a fire extinguisher present on each floor of the hospital. D- No fire audit was conducted at the hospital for 2 years.

If you chose any one you would not be correct, the correct answer is ALL the above.  What’s more some more options could be added for example, E-The hospital had no alarm system or sprinklers, F- The hospital lacked very basic fire security equipment. G- No escape route available to the trapped.

So it is obvious that we may run out of alphabets once a thorough investigation is done by experts as to the cause of the fire.

 

So at the cost of being repetitive, let me again say that unless every individual learns to take some responsibility on himself or herself, fires like this will continue to burn. Corona has taught us how every person has to be responsible enough from wearing masks, to sanitizing hands to being alert in every way. It is by this that the crisis has to some extent, been contained. Today if you are alive and able to go to work it is because I wore a mask and washed my hands before touching that railing you just touched. The same logic goes here too. Ensure fire safety at your place of work or living space. Take the help of experts if you are not knowledgeable. Contact your fire department and insist on a training programme or fire safety tutorial. Check out the NBC for rules on fire safety for enclosed spaces. The phone a friend lifeline is the best one here.

Go ahead, do it. DAMMIT DO IT NOW!