Fire safety may appear to be a hugely complicated issue whereas it actually isn’t. Problems arise when the priorities are not set right. From Kamala mills to Kamala building, and even before that, the post mortem of fire tragedies shows some commonalities. In most cases, Firefighting equipment is found non-functional due to unuse, emergency exits are either absent or unusable due to dumping or impediments that prevent people from escaping soon enough, fire drills are not conducted and people do not know how to use basic fire tools like extinguishers, fire licenses have not been obtained or renewed and absolute basic escape route tools are either missing or not as per NBC specifications.
When fire strikes, people die and property is gutted, everyone from the builder to the owner and even the architect are liable to be behind bars as per law if all the above are not addressed. So why does history repeat itself… repeatedly?
The simplest solution would be to plug all these loopholes at the construction stage itself, and the builders/developers and architects involved need to approach construction with a worst-case scenario in mind. If laziness, cost cutting or negligence are the reasons for not doing so, these people are certainly guilty and deserve what they get when things go wrong.
The wise thing would be for every civic minded citizen to check his own surroundings and if these basic parameters are not complied with, take it up with the responsible authorities and get it rectified. You read the news and even saw the TV report of the tragedy, somebody may have sent you a ghastly video of the incident which disturbed you….. Great. Now just think if the fire happened where you are right now, how many of those glaring mistakes that were mentioned in the news report apply? Is your premises certified fire safe? Are you in an environment with sprinklers, extinguishers, emergency lights and photoluminescent exit route signages in place and working? An even more basic question, is there a fire extinguisher nearby? And if a fire strikes, can you use that extinguisher properly and quickly and douse it? If you can’t and the fire spreads, is there an emergency exit door for you to escape? Is that door usable and not blocked or locked?
If any of those questions can be answered in a ‘No’, you need to address it now.