Fire Safety in Dwarka societies: a worrying state of affairs
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Fire Safety in Dwarka societies: a worrying state of affairs

The high rise buildings of CGHS and those made by DDA lacked fire fighting arrangements.

Fire Safety in Dwarka societies: a worrying state of affairs

In view of fire incident in Mundka, CitySpidey is replugging this article to create awareness on fire safety mechanisms in other parts of Delhi NCR.

Dwarka: The recent incident of two cars burnt recently in Chitrakoot Apartments Sector 23 in the parking area has raised questions about the fire safety systems in societies and whether the people are aware of these systems in case of a fire.

As informed by the president of the society, the fire could not be controlled by the fire fighting system due to its severity(because of the fuel) and a fire brigade had to be called. He emphasised that the fire system is well equipped and fit for any such situation. However, the other residents say that the fire fighting system is not efficient enough.

Certain incidents in the past in Delhi have begged the question that whether we are living under proper precautions to prevent fatal damages due to unforeseen activities or not. CitySpidey decided to investigate the matter. We visited many societies in Dwarka and talked to the residents on the subject of fire fighting systems and their maintenance.

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The result of the meetings was surprising as people did not know about the condition of the fire fighting system and some were not even aware of the system. As gathered, in case of fire, the societies in Dwarka would be at risk of serious threat to the lives of the people as the disaster management for fire is almost missing.

Also read | Delhi Mundka fire: 27 killed in capital's worst fire in recent years

The high rise buildings of CGHS(Cooperative Group Housing Societies) and those made by DDA in Dwarka lacked fire fighting arrangements. In most societies, the fire fighting systems are either lacking or have been damaged. One could witness the damages while visiting the societies of Dwarka. Broken pipes, damaged alarms, missing tools and many such issues were common in these societies. The condition was even more pathetic in DDA’s multi-storied building.

According to the residents, there is little awareness in the community on the subject and also the management of the society is least bothered about the maintenance of the system. Moreover, the Fire Department is only active in case of a complaint against the ill-maintained fire fighting system in the societies.

There are more than 350 high rise multi-storied residential societies in Dwarka. Before the registry, all the societies have to gather a No Objection Certificate NOC from the Fire Department. According to the rules, the certificates are valid for five years. Moreover, every year, the societies have to report about the maintenance of the fire fighting systems. However, this has never happened looking at the state of fire safety equipment.

Residents in the societies are often reluctant to say anything against the management as they feel intimidated and are afraid of any threat in their society.  In that way, in most societies, neither the management nor RWAs nor the residents make an effort to improve the system to have support to save lives in fire incidents. Whether it is a commercial building, society or DDA flat, the condition remains the same.

As gathered by society residents, fire fighting systems were installed about 15 to 20 years back to get approval or NOC are not being maintained properly.  If there is an incident, none of these systems will be of any help. Neither is there any periodical inspection or renewal by authorities.

Radhika Singh a resident of Sector 6 says, “Managing Committees come and go in every society, but no attention is ever paid to this vital requirement. If the system hasn't been tested or has not had routine maintenance, it can put everyone's life at risk. In the absence of fines and penalties, occupiers or societies do not bother to conduct regular maintenance of the fire prevention systems installed. Therefore, it is a need of the community as well as the authorities to think and plan out a method to have a full proof fire prevention and fire fighting system."

People who are aware and want to raise the issue shared that the negligence is on both parts, from the side of agencies and from the side of the society’s management too. Rejimon CK, an RTI activist and a resident of Sector 23,  has been highlighting the subject to the authorities. He says, “This is the responsibility of the people and also the fire department and disaster management department. The Delhi Fire Act must be applied with strictness by the authorities and it must be respected by the societies. After all, this is the matter of our lives. There must be a penalty on the societies if they do not maintain the norms by submitting the certificate for fitness of the system every year.”

One of the fire department officials said on the condition of anonymity that the societies are not serious about the subject and the number of renewals of certificates is very low. “This is unfortunate that there is a very poor response from the side of the society’s management. Most of the societies are not following the norms."

According to officials, only those societies were taken for inspection for which any complaints were received for the fire fighting system. As informed by them, few complaints were received and societies were sent a notice to get the fire fighting system repaired in 90 days.  If the work is not completed in three months, there is a provision to give another 90 days. If after that they do not go for maintenance and fitness of the system, then they take action by cutting the connection of water and electricity.

When CitySpidey asked that was there any case of any connection cut in the societies in Dwarka, he replied that he could not remember any such case. It now falls upon the community and the management of the societies to keep the fire fighting system maintained to fight with any odd condition.