Tragedies happen, as they say in street parlance-‘Shit happens’. Truer words were never spoken. But ‘Shit happens to others’ is perhaps not quite so true. Take the example of Notre Dame. A heritage monument and a high profile target in these days of terrorism. And yet when the flames got angry, nothing really helped. So if you sleep comfortably in your beds thinking you are fire safe, the question is are you?
No one can avoid problems, not even saints and sages- is a popular Buddhist maxim. What it conveys is that we humans are fallible and prone to unknown risk all the time. However, unpreparedness is never an excuse. We lock our doors at night don’t we? So therefore, how logical it is to cut down fire safety measures to save a few bucks?
A spate of fire accidents in and around Mumbai has heightened concerns on fire safety. It is a fact that there is significant ignorance and a casual approach towards fire safety standards. The MFB recently had accepted that in the last three years the number of major blazes in the city has increased by around 30 per cent. Mumbai has a complex layout with narrow roads, slum areas turned into industrial zones and a rising number of tall buildings, which is increasing the fire risk.
To create awareness among the people, the Mumbai Fire Brigade (MFB) has made a short film featuring superstar Amitabh Bachchan with a fire safety anthem ‘Chalo India Abb Saath Chale Hum’. The one-minute film will be displayed in movie theatres before the movie starts.
Fire accidents are often the result of human error and very rarely acts of god. Sabotage of course, is an added element in the risk. When an act of terrorism or a vehicle or industrial accident ignites fuel, the resulting fire or explosion can be devastating.
I wish to emphasize here that sometimes the optics of safety may differ from ground realities too and this is what we need to guard against. In the Kamala mills episode and the ESIC hospital episode- to cite just two- it was seen in hindsight that the very basics of fire safety were absent. Many lives could have been saved if only they were not in breach of safety basics.
What use is a fire extinguisher if the guy near it in case of fire doesn’t know how to use it? What use is a safety exit if the lock is jammed when a ‘would – be’ escapee desperately tugs at it? Or if there are obstacles blocking the emergency exit when the need is to escape in a matter of seconds? Or if there are no illuminated signs showing the nearest exit or emergency lights offering some urgent visibility in smog and fire situations?
Ignorance of law is no excuse and deliberate avoidance is surely much worse. If you want to learn and know more, we at Prolite are more than willing to come more than half way. We will guide you, train you in fire safety and enlighten you on the Building code and fire safety parameters that govern all closed premises. Builders, developers, architects, property owners, planners, movers and shakers are all obliged to be conversant with these very basics at least. We have been doing it for years and we enjoy the gratitude of so many for doing so. When seconds stand between life and death, maybe we need to do a little better than even Notre Dame.