Vashi fire raises questions on safety measures

Due to the lack of recommended safety arrangements at the Centre One Mall, the Navi Mumbai fire brigade reportedly took over five hours to douse the fire on Wednesday. The fire broke at one of the electronic shops on the first floor, but it took the firemen more than an hour to reach the spot due to lack of space in the corridors. The fire brigade reportedly managed to douse the fire in an hour. The smoke, however, lingered for over five hours.

Fortunately, the fire broke out after 10 pm, and not during peak hours, which would have wrecked havoc in the mall. The mall does not have big exit doors, said a fire fighter, on condition of anonymity.

“We made a special effort and used oxygen cylinders to reach the spot, as the smoke had congested the first floor. The smoke remained on the first floor for quite some time, as there was not enough space to let it out,” said a fire officer of Vashi fire brigade, who was a part of the fire-dousing team.

Out of the eight big malls in Navi Mumbai, reportedly none have installed safety measures recommended by the NV Merani committee in 2009. Merani, chairman of the multiplexes committee, said, “We had strongly recommended enough space in corridors and at exit-entry points of malls. Mall authorities are even allowing small kiosks to be set up, which hinders the fire fighter’s work. We had recommended big windows to let out smoke in case of any fires, but most malls do not have windows at all, as they use air conditioners. We want the government to issue notices to the malls.”

On the other hand, the Navi Mumbai fire brigade has claimed that it has ensured an implementation of all required safety measures in the malls in the city. JN Sinnerkar, chief of fire department, said, “We regularly conduct audits at malls across the city. Center One mall has all the required safety arrangements. The picture will be clear once the report comes out. We will take the necessary action, if the mall is found to have violated any safety norms.”

Basavraj, manager, Centre One, denied any lapse in the mall’s safety measures. “We have installed all necessary equipment that can douse any kind of fires. We are ready for any kind of audit of our mall.” 

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