Most Mumbai housing societies are yet to undergo fire audits

Mar 02, 2014, 09:51 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

BMC and fire department officials admit that only a handful of the city’s housing societies have bothered to get fire audits done for their buildings and that they have no idea if high-rises have functional fire-fighting equipment

THE apartment you live in may have cost you a few crores, but chances are high that no fire audit has been done in your housing society for the past few years.

A fire broke out on the 12th floor of Mont Blanc at Kemps Corner on December 13 last year. File Pic

The recent examples of deadly fires in some of south Mumbai’s expensive high-rise buildings have only highlighted this fact. One of the reasons, fire department official say they cannot douse fires in time, is because many housing societies do not have necessary fire fighting equipment or even if they have the kit, they are not functional.

A recent survey by the fire department proved that less than a handful of buildings in the city have conducted their structural or fire audit reports and submitted the results to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation.

According to the rules, every housing society needs to get a fire audit done every six months and check. But convention dictates that only after a society managing committee approaches the audit officer for a fire audit is one carried out by the fire department. The fire depart has 83 designated officers who carry out basic fire inspections, which are different from a fire audit. After the inspection is done, a notice is sent to the society of a building and they have to reply within 120 days stating if they have complied with the rules.

What is a fire audit?
The BMC budget may have earmarked a sizeable amount for the fire department, but a lot of it remains unutilized. Last year only Rs 4.20 crore was used of the Rs 160 crore that was allotted to the department. This year the BMC has plans of coming up with eight fire sub-stations but the staff claims the paper work is too stressful with routine fire calls taking up their time.

A fire official on condition of anonymity, said, “It becomes very difficult for us to compile all the date about fire audits. We have to compile data of how many buildings have been audited and how many are yet to be audited.”

When contacted, AN Verma, Chief Fire Officer, said, “We do keep a check on the fire equipment in residential buildings as regular fire inspections are carried out, but a fire audit is done when a particular building or a society asks us to conduct one.”

No audit
South Mumbai’s iconic Jolly Maker Towers that caught fire last year, had not been fire-audited for years and the fire department was unaware that the fire fighting equipment at the building were not in working condition. Similar was the case with Mont Blanc building near Kemps Corner. A fire audit report for the building had not submitted to the fire department.

>> Fire audits are done only if a housing society asks for one
>> No audit figures available of the last few year  
>> Few buildings submit mandatory audit report to the fire department

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