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FIRE SAFETY CERTIFICATION VIA ONLINE APPLICATIONS IS A DEADLY COCKTAIL

Police HQ Dehradun has announced that Fire Safety NOC’s will be issued online from February 1. The decision to launch an online system for submitting applications as well as issuance of NOC’s was taken late December during the review meeting of the fire department that was chaired by director general of police (DGP) Ashok Kumar.

While it is true the whole world is in reboot mode and online working is becoming a way of life, this decision could well have its own negative impact in the long run.

As it is, there is a big problem in that fire safety has been hugely compromised over the years as the checks and balances system that can ensure compliance under the existing rules and norms set by the governing agencies and indeed, the national building code has failed to deliver more often than not. Errors of commission and omission involving the point personnel at any or all given points from application to inspection and finally to issuance of the 29 types of fire safety NOC’s mandatory for industries and business premises are too many to count. And as in the case of the Kamala Mills fire, to name only one, it has been found that the exigency protocols have been abused, ignored and sidestepped with contempt on the part of the officials who are responsible for ensuring iron-clad fire safety protocols in place in the premises 24x7.

So if online issuance is allowed sans physical inspections, mock drills and training of all personnel under the roof in question, it will create a loophole the size of a football field for various vested interests and laziness-prone elements to make hay while the sun shines, so to speak.

Fighting fire needs modernization, high-end fire-fighting equipment and the need to be able to encash the resources available to ensure optimum safety firewalls.
Real physical on-site inspection and the touch feel method of judging fire risk can hardly be matched by online surveys or inspections of any kind. There is no short cut to fire safety. Generations have tried to combat fire with their own share of hits and misses and much progress has been made in that direction. Yet deaths due to fire have not ceased or even eased beyond a point.

 

Maybe fire safety in 2021 needs out of the box thinking but that alone cannot be enough. The process must strengthen existing non-negotiable exigency protocols and also progress with time. Using online philosophies without practical application of mind and use of native common sense may just be a case of cutting the nose to spite the face…literally.