First State after Karnataka to Prepare a Fire-Safety Blueprint in Association with
Bangalore, March 17 2022: Beyond Carlton, the country’s first citizen-led initiative on fire safety, today announced signing of an MoU with the Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA), Department of Revenue and Disaster Management, Govt. of Odisha for the preparation of a comprehensive fire safety framework and plan for the twin cities of Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack. The MoU has been signed with the intention to work on setting “common goals and activities to ensure enhanced fire safety in the identified cities, to develop a strategic vision on fire safety for Odisha and to promote community-based fire safety awareness amongst other objectives.
Over 10,000 people are killed in fire accidents every year in India. The rapid growth of populations in cities across India, rampant construction of high rise buildings, increasing commercial utilities, long hours spent in crammed office spaces and public utility buildings has led to an increasing trend of fire incidences in hospitals, market complexes and urban spaces. In times of growing urbanisation, the importance of fire safety in urban space thus becomes a key focus for every state Disaster Management Department.
Beyond Carlton, under the leadership of Uday Vijayan, Managing Trustee & President of BC, has been working tirelessly since its inception in the area of spreading fire safety awareness. Beyond Carlton has been actively collaborating with schools, workspaces and resident welfare associations to conduct training and seminars relevant to fire safety. Beyond Carlton has prepared the fire safety Blueprint for Bengaluru in consultation with the Karnataka Fire and Emergency Services Department in 2018, which has a five-year roadmap from 2018 to 2022.
“With over 10,000 people dying every year due to fires in India, we believe fire safety is a burning issue. Even though solutions to fire safety are well known and available, there was a need for a pathway to implementing the solutions that needs to be charted. Over the years, we have noticed that people are becoming aware about fire safety norms and rules. However, a lot more needs to be done at various levels with the many stakeholders,” said Uday Vijayan, Managing Trustee & President, Beyond Carlton.
Mr R.A.Venkitachalam, Trustee, Beyond Carlton and providing leadership on this initiative with OSDMA added “Our proof of concept and our partnership with the Government of Karnataka has led to many others reaching out to Beyond Carlton for preparing the framework for fire safety. We strongly believe that collaborations are the need of the day and we hope to make a trying task easy. By providing a framework, States need not work from scratch.”
Mr. Venkitachalam further added, “The issues we plan to address through this MoU includes creating a Home Fire Preparedness plan, identification of unsafe buildings due to lack of fire safety compliances and a web-based fire incidence reporting mechanism. We will also empanel fire safety contractors, digitize fire safety NOCs and formulate Public-Private Partnership Approach so as to have improved coordination mechanism for fire and life safety.”
The twin cities of Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack have witnessed several fire incidents in the recent past, resulting in injury and loss of lives. Notable events including Major fire at a petrol pump near Raj Bhavan with over 9 injured, Narrow escape for 127 patients as major fire broke out in Cuttack Sadguru Covid Hospital in 2020 and a Fire in SUM Hospital, Bhubaneswar, leaving 21 dead and over 100 Injured in 2016. Such numbers predict an increase in infrastructural development and superimpose the need for safety measures against fires.
Shared Mr Pradeep Kumar Jena, IAS, Development Commissioner-cum, Additional Chief Secretary to Government and Managing Director, OSDMA, “A strong fire safety infrastructure is one of the key pillars to a disaster-resilient city. It is important that the fire safety infrastructure of the twin cities be modernized in the interest of public safety. We hope that the framework put together by Beyond Carlton will go a long way in making our cities fire-safe more than what it is at present.”
The key objectives of the MoU include- working on a set of common goals and activities to ensure enhanced fire safety, promote community-based fire safety awareness, save lives and minimise injuries to building occupants and community members, guide development of Fire Safety Plan for the twin cities, develop a strategic vision on Fire Safety for Odisha and to guide institutional aspects of strengthening Fire & Emergency Services in Odisha.
About Beyond Carlton
Beyond Carlton was formed by Uday Vijayan a month after the Carlton Towers fire accident on February 23, 2010. Having lost his young son, Vijayan reached out to other families of the deceased and injured, to seek accountability from the authorities and to create awareness among citizens around fire safety.
Spearheading a sustained campaign for a fire-safe Bengaluru, Beyond Carlton has since intensified its fight. Its PIL in the Karnataka High Court forced the government to amend fire safety laws to make them more stringent for high rises in the State. Based on the court’s orders, the Government of Karnataka had notified the amended rules in July 2011.
The collective runs regular sessions on fire safety in corporate houses, schools and colleges. In partnership with the Fire department, Beyond Carlton also developed a unique mobile app, FIRE CHAMP, empowering citizens to report fire safety violations.
Over the years, Beyond Carlton has emerged as a fire safety thinktank. For its efforts, founder Uday Vijayan was honoured with the Namma Bengaluru Citizens award in 2012.
Though based in Bangalore, Beyond Carlton is now working on expanding its initiative to other Indian cities too as the issues are identical.
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