Housing societies and residential complexes are inexplainably negligent about fire safety requirements and wake up only after an accident, according to fire officials.
They say that putting in place an effective fire-fighting system is in the interests of residents, but they don’t taken this seriously.
This issue has sprung up, after the blaze at Jolly Maker building in Cuffe Parade, on Sunday, where it was found that the fire-fighting system was not operational.
According to the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2009, every housing society or residential building is required to conduct a fire safety audit every six months and the report is to be submited to the fire department. “This is mandatory under the law and is aimed to ensure the safety of residents,” says Suhas Joshi, chief fire officer of the Mumbai fire brigade.
Not implementing the guidelines is punishable with rigorous imprisonment of six months to three years and a fine of between Rs20,000 and Rs50,000, and even disconnection of water supply to the premises.
“If citizens take one step forward, we will take ten steps to help them ensure safety,” says Joshi. “We expect some cooperation from citizens as we are short on staff. Still, we undertake inspection of high-rises on a regular basis.”
A fire station officer in south Mumbai explained that “people are generally careful in day-to-day life while crossing the road, or just walking outside. Similarly, we expect them to give importance to fire safety requirements in their buildings.”
Manisha Mhaiskar, additional municipal commissioner said, “Citizens living in high-rises are educated and law abiding. We expect them to follow the fire safety guidelines. But if they don’t we would have no option but to pull them up.”