Most outlets have no fire exits; spaces for keeping extinguishers being used as storage area
Despite the Fire and Rescue Services Department’s call to streamline fire safety measures, many shops on the renovated S.M. Street and surrounding areas still have no fire exits, and spaces meant for keeping fire extinguishers are being used as additional storage area.
Though surprise inspections exposed several such violations, many traders are yet to get convinced of the safety requirements that can save lives and property during an emergency.
Since many shops in the highly vulnerable area deal in plastic and rubber products, the impact of a fire outbreak will be huge.
Smoke detectors and portable fire extinguishers remain scarecrows in many old buildings where the stock is crammed up, restricting easy entry. A few building owners are yet to replace old wiring. Also, use of poor quality inverters and electrical equipment is rampant.
“It was a providential escape for people in many shops near Oasis complex and Baby Mall in Friday’s fire outbreak. There is even a building that stored liquefied petroleum gas cylinders,” said a fire official. He added that firefighters could make sudden intervention owing to the renovation of the street.
According to fire officials, reopening of shops without proper inspection after long months of inactivity is also a safety challenge. They said several traders had not even cared to inspect electrical circuits which can be easily damaged by rodents. Even a damaged switch can trigger an inferno.
During an earlier inspection, fire squads had detected a series of safety violations by owners of eight multi-storey buildings. The officials had reported the matter to the district administration for stringent action. The inspection report had even mentioned reluctance on the part of building owners to renew the annual maintenance contract (AMC) for firefighting equipment. Incidentally, the authorities had ordered closure of some buildings following failure by owners to comply with official instructions.