RESTAURANTS OR FIRE TRAPS?
14 Killed and 12 injured at “Mojo’s Bistro” and “1 Above” in Kamala Mills on 29th of December 2017.
This incident is an indication of the alarming situation that each one of us is in, in this Maximum City. It also leads us to ponder upon where exactly are we humans heading? Is the human life that cheap, wherein someone’s greed and/or negligence can just pull someone’s breath away? Are we so lost in our selfishness and “this will not happen to me” attitude that we do not care about any of the precautionary measures needed for the security of our near and dear ones?
The fire that broke in Kamala mills was caused due to the casual attitude towards human lives, rules and regulations were flouted with impunity, lack of implementation of basic fire safety norms, complete ignorance about evacuation techniques and more importantly complete abdication of the government’s duty to protect and safeguard the citizens.
The detailed investigation shows that this deadly fire started from the flying embers of charcoal used for hookahs at the Mojo’s Bistro that came in contact with the curtains which further aided the spread of fire rapidly. Fire department also reported that neither of the two restaurants Mojo Bistro and 1 Above had the clearances to serve liquor or hookahs.
Further, when people made a run for their lives, they were confronted with blocked emergency exits and combustible material (beer kegs…no less!!) in the emergency staircases. Another factor was the lack of exit signage. These factors hampered the guest evacuation. Shockingly, the bouncers who should have guided them to emergency exits advised them to stay put in the restrooms as they themselves were clueless about the ways to escape. This made already worse situation deadly.
Piecing together the various reasons behind this life taking incident, it can be concluded that the most basic reason was that the guests lack awareness about the Fire Safety measures, that a restaurant is required to comply with. In spite of charging a king’s ransom, these restaurants totally disregarded the safety of its guests.
The citizens of this mega city have to realize that the time for looking the other way when a safety violation is done is over. These violations, whether at their homes, places of work or recreation, pose a dire risk of their being trapped in fire. These violations can be in the form of wrong storage of LPG cylinders, faulty sprinkler systems, blocked / missing exit routes, unearthed electric systems, faulty heating and cooling equipment, etc.
All these violations can be verified during a fire audit. Fire audits certificate should be demanded for all buildings / institutes that you enter.
Fire audits create a boundary between Safety and Disaster in an otherwise uncertain environment. These audits basically involve a three step process. First is, inspection of all the safety equipment. Two, rectification of the flaws pointed out by the initial inspection. And, finally confirmation that the entire system is working properly before issuance of Form B.
These audits, as per the Maharashtra Fire Prevention Act, 2006 must be done twice a year (Jan & July). Only the agencies licensed by the Maharashtra Fire Services can perform these audits / inspections. All commercial, industrial and residential buildings failing to carry fire audits will have to bear heavy penalties as per law and imprisonment of up to three years.
Some of the basic measures to be checked and undertaken by individuals or group of individuals for ensuring safety against fire are listed below:
- Underground / Overhead tank of adequate capacity.
- Pumps of adequate capacity and quantity with a separate power source.
- Hose reels, Manual alarm, and Fire extinguishers which need to be in good working condition, along with training for its right usage
- Sprinkler systems should be placed if a building has a basement.
- Exit doors and emergency exit points with all fire safety equipment should be easily visible
If the above measures are implemented with regular audits, panic situations and loss of life and property can be avoided to a very great extent.
In conclusion, it is up to us to demand that our places of residence, work and leisure are safe for us and our loved ones. Unless we demand / check the fire compliance certificates before occupying / entering a premise, any amount of shedding tears will be of no use and we will be destined to another (and possibly bigger) tragedy in the future.