Inadequate fire safety precautions in Bengaluru’s high-rises

Is Bengaluru city taking enough fire safety precautions? Apparently not, and you need to read this
Fire exits are often blocked with cardboard boxes and sometimes they are even locked.
Every year India loses over 25,000 people to fire accidents in the country.  As per National Crime Records Bureau data, there were 237 fire deaths in Karnataka in 2013, which is about 6% of the total fire-related deaths in the State.

The judge was angry because Beyond Carlton, an organisation working toward fire safety by those affected by the 2010 Carlton Tower fire in Bengaluru, brought to the notice of the court the poor implementation of fire-safety norms.

Uday Vijayan, President of Beyond Carlton, says, “There is an imbalance between the increase in urbanization and the quality of civic and social infrastructure in India.”

The guidelines listed in the notification are quite specific.

Bengaluru is grossly short with respect to infrastructure. The city has only 19 fire stations where as it needs 56. Vijayan, in his letter to the Members of Parliament representing Bengaluru, has chalked out an estimate of the investment that would be needed. “The additional 37 fire stations and physical assets will need Rs 450 crores excluding the routine expenses for maintenance. The operational expenses of all 56 fire stations would be Rs 145 crores per year.” he writes in the letter.

He also says that violations of these rules has resulted in old buildings continuing to be potential tinder boxes and the new buildings which come up not caring to invest adequately in fire safety measures.

“80% fire accidents are caused due to short-circuits. Old buildings are more vulnerable to fire accidents as people don’t maintain the electrical connections in their houses. Similarly, there is a huge challenge with old Government buildings. None of them will even pass the test. We could give up on the old buildings that fail the fire safety test. But, at some point Beyond Carlton would take up the challenge of making old buildings fire-safe.” he told The News Minute. He also adds that

It is up to the citizens to insist on better safety standards.

“There are a fair number of people who don’t follow the fire safety which is because of the over-arching Indian attitude toward public safety in the country. A simple example can be, how a person puts on his helmet the moment he sees a cop and removes it as soon as the cop is out of his way,” he says, “we cannot have the same attitude towards fire-safety.”

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