Maker Towers skipped fire safety audits for two years

Committee member admits to lapse but says the housing society installed fire doors after suggestions from fire brigade during last audit

The last time an audit was done, the fire brigade had suggested the society to install a fire door in the buildings, which was complied with, and having one more hose in the six-building complex for more effective fire-fighting. Pics/PTI, Bipin Kokate
The last time an audit was done, the fire brigade had suggested the society to install a fire door in the buildings, which was complied with, and having one more hose in the six-building complex for more effective fire-fighting. Pics/PTI, Bipin Kokate

It could have been possible to avert the tragic fire that broke out yesterday on the 20th floor of a Maker Towers building, had the posh housing society not skipped its biannual fire safety audit. The last fire audit of the building was done two years ago.

As per the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, all buildings, which have more than seven floors, are mandated to install a fire fighting system and every housing society must conduct a fire safety audit and submit the certificate to the fire brigade in January and July.

Brigade gave suggestions
“No fire audit of the building was done since the last two years. The last time an audit was done, the fire brigade had given some suggestions for improving the fire fighting system,” a senior fire brigade official told mid-day. Among these suggestions was installing a fire door in the buildings, which was complied with, and having one more hose in the six-building complex for more effective fire-fighting.

Another senior fire brigade official said, “Since there are thousands of high rises in the city, we have asked all housing societies to appoint an independent agency to conduct the fire audit and submit it to fire brigade. If the society submits its fire audit report annually, after checking, we get to know if the fire fighting system of the building is in place.”

No fire alarm in place
Another official from fire brigade said, “While the wet riser system (used to supply water for fire-fighting) of the flat was functioning properly, there was no fire alarm in place. Had it been there, it could have saved lives of the servants who were sleeping at the time of incident.” The official added, “Since it is a very old building, there was no refuge area on the floor. A refuge area could have helped them gather there for safety.” Another senior official added, “Since the audit was not done, we would consider sending a notice to the society for non-compliance of the norms.”

When asked about the fire audit and notice to building, Chief Fire Officer, PS Rahangdale said, “We are doing our investigation. We will decide the further course of action after checking all the facts.”

Society committee member says
Ajay Jain, one of the members of the committee of office bearers, admitted that the last fire audit was done two years ago and said, “But our building is one of the most equipped buildings in the Cuffe Parade area to deal with fire incidents. In the last fire audit, we were told to install fire doors. I think we are the only building in the locality to have this arrangement made and thanks to that, several lives were saved today as the smoke did not enter the stairwell.”

Electricity restored
While the electricity supply was paused to the affected building after the incident, it was restored by evening until the 18th floor, but floors beyond that remain without electricity until today. “Most of the residents have moved out to alternate accommodations,” added Jain.

114 high rises ill-equipped

>> The fire brigade has conducted surprise inspections of residential as well as commercial buildings across the city from September 23 to October 4

>> Out of 193 buildings inspected, 114 were found with various deficiencies and flouting various safety norms such as lack of a fire-fighting system i.e. sprinkler system, fire pumps and ill-maintained riser system.

Voices

Shobhaa De
‘One and a half year ago there was a fire on the sixth floor, which was another short circuit. There are talks about doing a fire and electricity audit of the old building but there is no development yet.’

Anandita De
‘We woke up to the loud sounds of fire engines. Until then, most of us had no clue about the fire. We could see that the two floors were gutted but there was no smoke in the stairwell, which could have affected others.’

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