The heat is still on British Prime Minister Theresa May post the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, with victims' families asking hard questions about the blaze. While we cannot draw direct parallels between Grenfell and Mumbai, there are lessons for the city from North Kensington's tragedy.
All residential buildings in the city need to have fire fighting equipment installed in the premises. Today, sadly this is the exception rather than the rule. While this may not douse a fire completely, residents must have access to a stopgap measure, and this can certainly help save lives, till the professional firefighters arrive.
Keep stairwells clear of obstructions so that residents have a clear path of escape in case of a blaze. We have seen notices by housing society committees are routinely ignored or some residents refusing to clear out their belongings from the public corridors. These range from old, discarded furniture, shoe stands, children's bicycles, small cupboards, old refrigerators or ACs, some leftover wood from recent work in the building. The list can go on; they cannot be allowed to hinder people from accessing staircases.
Finally, we see little or no enthusiasm from many residents, when the fire safety personnel arrive at the building to teach residents how to use the cylinders installed in the building. The residents need to show some responsibility and at least learn how to use the equipment. Otherwise installing a fire extinguisher in your building is pointless.
Finally, educate yourself about fires, how to minimise damage, how to get to safety by avoiding the lift and putting a wet cloth on your face to keep the smoke at bay - tips that save your life. Do not be complacent, thinking it will never happen to you. Grenfell and other incidents have proved that wrong.
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