Latest records from the fire department show that over 90% of buildings and towers in the city have not updated fire NOCs, reflecting the casual attitude of the public about meeting fire safety standards in their homes and workplaces.
Recently it was reported that Odisha Bhavan not having a fire NOC for several years at Vashi. The complex with 76 rooms regularly houses patients who come to the city for medical treatment and has had two fire incidents since July 2016.
It turns out that most of the residential and commercial buildings along with hotels, hospitals and educational institutions in the city have not updated their fire NOCs, despite it being mandatory twice every year.
“Apart from residential buildings, many educational institutions, hotels, hospitals and commercial buildings (including office complexes) have neglected fire safety. We do hold mock drills and awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of fire safety. The public must cooperate and make the effort to upgrade fire fighting equipment in the buildings. One simple formality can save many lives, he stated,” fire officer Ganesh Patil said.
When asked why the fire department has not taken stringent action against defaulters, another senior fire official said, “We have the right to cut off power supply of any building which does not have adequate fire fighting equipment. But often it is not advisable to take such extreme steps at structures like Odisha Bhavan, which houses many cancer patients. A power cut at a hospital building may also be considered inhuman. So, we issue notices to erring managements and societies.”
Besides, the city fire department has a staff crunch. Around 419 new personnel are expected to be recruited later this year, which will help in taking necessary steps against defaulters.
“As per the Maharashtra Fire Prevention and Life Safety Measures Act, 2006, every building is expected to upgrade their fire fighting equipment and get the fire NOC twice a year. It is criminal for housing societies and commercial establishments to neglect these rules. This also leads to a loss of revenue for the municipality and the state government if they do not implement fire safety rules.”
Interestingly, all big malls and hotels above the height of 24m have already upgraded their fire NOCs as they get a good footfall daily. Fire officials too consistently follow up with them for ensuring that they are fire safe.