Mumbai: BMC's HQ a fire disaster waiting to happen?

During the course of Fire Safety Week, which is held from April 14 to April 20 every year, the BMC’s Fire Brigade has been spreading awareness among the public regarding precautions that need to be taken in case of a fire. But the civic body seems to have thrown caution to the winds as far as fire safety in its own headquarters is concerned.

Part of the stairway leading to the fifth floor is blocked by discarded furniture
Part of the stairway leading to the fifth floor is blocked by discarded furniture

The passages and stairways inside the BMC headquarters have old chairs, cupboards, files and documents piled up, which would make it difficult for its staff and visitors to escape in case their is a fire. There is a special exit on every floor of the six-storey building that can be used if disaster strikes, but these exits have been blocked with discarded furniture.

Discarded window frames and steel sheets have blocked the hydraulic fire pump on the sixth floor
Discarded window frames and steel sheets have blocked the hydraulic fire pump on the sixth floor

Further, frames and steel sheets that are no longer in use have blocked the hydraulic fire pump on the top floor. In addition, the emergency exit on the second floor is packed with old furniture and documents to such an extent that it becomes difficult for people to navigate the passage.

The main entrance on the fifth floor is littered with old furniture near the staircase. Fire officials said that they have written numerous letters to the BMC maintenance department, but nothing has been done. “Every week, we conduct an inspection inside the BMC headquarters to check whether all the fire equipment is in working condition.

We have written several letters to the maintenance department of the BMC stating the condition of passages and staircases on each floor,” said Sunil Nestrikar, chief fire officer, BMC.

When contacted, S S Thakur, executive engineer, maintenance department, BMC, said, “We have already informed the concerned departments to remove the discarded things from the floor. They have not done anything, and hence we will write a letter to the civic commissioner.”

Safety hazards
>> The special exit on every floor has been blocked with discarded furniture
>> The main entrance on the fifth floor is littered with old furniture near the staircase 
>> Unwanted frames and steel sheets block the hydraulic fire pump on the top floor
>> Emergency exit on the second floor is blocked with old furniture and documents

Probe into BJP HQ renovation
The Bombay High Court yesterday asked the state government to “come clean” on whether the BJP had carried out any alterations in its state headquarters.

Despite the HC forbidding the BJP from carrying out any renovation work at their office in 2013, petitions filed by three residents’ associations told the court that the BJP had done so last year.

Last month, the HC directed the BMC to conduct an inspection of the premises. Although the civic body submitted the report yesterday, it did not specify whether the construction was legal or otherwise. — Agencies

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