I came across a very telling commentary on fire accidents while googling the subject and the opening para said, “The devastating Delhi blaze that claimed 27 lives last fortnight has shifted the focus back on a fire safety system in tatters, echoing a deep, telling concern in cities across the country. Structural design flaws that ignored even the basic safety mandates, escape routes that remained inaccessible, fire-fighting equipment that just were not there. The flaws were aplenty, and predictable.
While it was a succinct summary of everything that was wrong in the system, the most worrying word for me was the word “predictable”. This addresses the elephant in the room, albeit obliquely.
Why predictable? Predictable because nobody knows? Obviously not, everybody knows that the pre requisites of basic fire safety make it necessary to have obstacle free emergency escape exit, fire extinguishers and related equipment as specified clearly in the NBC, emergency lights, signs and related exigency paraphernalia in place and all this in working condition 24x7x 365 days in the year (366 in a leap year). Obtaining a fire licence is impossible unless all these are ticked boxes to begin with. Then there are fire drills, training of personnel on use of fire safety equipment that naturally follows all this. But how many buildings, complexes and even hospitals among other enclosed premises follow this? The percentage should shock us but it doesn’t. So, the blogger/ news reporter who wrote that paragraph used the word “Predictably” with his tongue firmly in his cheek for sure.
If the loopholes are to be plugged, time has told us that the builder won’t, the architect wont, the home owner or business owner won’t either. So, who can do it? Believe it or not YOU. If you spot any of these failings in your own premises or anywhere in the neighbourhood, you can click pictures or get statements from people inside and lodge your complaint with the competent authority. To be sure, the result will force people to act or face prosecution. When fire occurs, many people get jailed but when it doesn’t people believe in their luck and the show goes on. Only you can change that.