MD’s Desk

MD’s Desk

23rd March 2018

Most of us look at fire norms, such as, taking part in fire drills and but do not block the passageways and staircases. It might actually lead to causing inconvenience in the routine.

We fail to comprehend that these minute actions can be lifesavers in case of an accidental fire. We always are under a notion of our own homes being safe, which cannot always be true. Wishful thinking, really.

Statistics show that an overwhelming majority of fire fatalities happen in regular residential apartment buildings. With the high rise apartment buildings that embellish the city skylines today, are more at risk.

Fire is said to be a good servant, but a very bad master. It can cause destruction in a normal apartment (flat) in a span of 3 minutes or less. It isn’t much time for a fire brigade personnel to reach the compromised location. Hence, everyone should be able to prevent an/or (if required) fight the fire at the incipient stage.

Not being prepared for a fire in today’s society where we are unsure of what our neighbors are like or what do they harbor. They could be storing hazardous material or are irregular in maintaining gas pipes/burners, is like being ignorant to your own safety. We all can be prepared to by conducting & participating in regular fire audits & mock drill training, respectively. Learning about fire evacuation techniques will help us ensure a safe future not only for ourselves and our families but also for the people around us.

Let's imbibe a culture of fire safety in our lives. We owe at least that to our future generations.

The Russian Mall fire that killed 64 people including 41 kids

Investigators said fire exits were blocked and the fire alarm system failed to function.

Firefighters struggled to reach the worst-hit areas, including two of the three cinema halls which collapsed through the floor during the blaze.

Eyewitnesses said that some guards and staff helped people to get out, but there was no coordinated effort to evacuate the shopping mall.

Russian police have arrested Yulia Bogdanova who had failed to address shortcomings in fire safety at the shopping mall.

Bogdanova is the owner of the "Winter Cherry" mall in the Siberian city of Kemerovo where the fire broke out.

Fire at the Jail in Venezuela that killed 68 inmates:

The fast-moving fire swept through a Jail station where prisoners were being kept in crowded cells, becoming one of the worst catastrophes involving the Venezuelan prison system.

Human rights groups immediately criticized authorities for failing to address the rapidly declining conditions in the nation’s jails. “The negligence of authorities continues causing deaths,” the group said.

Angry relatives pushed up against a line of officers who were holding metal shields.

These tragedies should act as a wake-up call for the Mall owners and Jail Authorities in India.

Both these categories of buildings are highly neglected. The similarity of the incidents makes one wonder if going to malls is akin to being in jail??

Even being in jail, should be for correctional purposes....not for one to be burnt alive!

Indian jails are infamous for being overcrowded and underfunded. In situations like these, fire systems are the first to be compromised. Some of our jails do not have basic firefighting facilities. In such cases, with inmates locked in their cells, it’s a nightmare waiting to unfold. Authorities need to wake up and take serious cognizance of the same.

Malls are also known to flout fire norms. They have non-functional fire systems, very narrow exits and lack of proper signage. Some mall owners look at the firefighting system as a hindrance that spoils the aesthetics of their interiors and they go to great lengths to avoid the mandatory systems like sprinklers and hydrants.

The fire industry and regulators carry a heavy burden on their shoulders of protecting the country’s citizens’ lives and assets. These firefighters are our country’s pride.

Any act that is seen to be in violation of the rules will be unforgivable. We already have instances of Kamala Mills, AMRI hospitals and others.

The Smith episode has a lot of lessons for the fire industry and regulators of the country.

  • Lesson 1: Small mistakes can lead to massive losses and damages to reputation.

  • Lesson 2: Technology is evolving very fast. It is impossible to evade scrutiny of the our actions and we should be ready for the same should we plan to find an easy way out/temporary fixes or ignore the density of the problem at hand.

  • Lesson 3: There is no forgiveness or consideration of past performance.

  • Lesson 4: In case of fire emergency, it’s citizens’ lives that are at stake and not any institution or their pride. There will relative consequences if safety actions face failures

These should not scare us, rather they should inspire us to do our jobs honestly, with dedication and not fall prey to greed.