As the year 2022 draws to a close, it is time to look back at the past. Unfortunately, thousands of fire incidents were reported this year in Delhi at high-rise buildings, factories and markets. Recently, a fire was reported at the Bhalaswa landfill and before that, a massive fire broke out at Chandi Chowk's Bhagirat palace where a major part of the market was destroyed.
According to a report by Delhi Fire Service, 10,000 fire incidents were reported in the capital by June itself. One might also note the Mundka factory fire which resulted in the death of 27 people. At the fore, were officers from Delhi Fire Services, preventing casualties and saving the day.
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CitySpidey had the opportunity to meet the Director of Delhi Fire Services, Atul Garg recently. We discussed the most common causes of fire incidents, fire audits, protection of old markets of Delhi and how can the residents of Delhi NCR be more fire safe.
Following are excerpts from our conversation-
1 Among the causes of fire, the most common is a short circuit. How can that be prevented?
30 to 40 per cent of fire incidents take place due to the failure of the electricity system such as the recent Bhagirat palace fire which started with a fluctuation in the AC. There are certain points that Delhi citizens must keep in mind. The main thing for preventing an electrical fire is that we should check the load. After moving to a place, we keep on adding equipment and the wiring decays. There is a life of wiring also. We do not pay attention and keep on increasing the load. The wiring of your markets or house should be checked every year by a trained electrician.
Another prevention is never to use multi-plugging. There is a spark whenever there is a loose connection and that can cause a fire.
2 What are some of the other causes that can trigger a fire?
There are 3-4 causes of fire such as human ignorance, unclean chimneys etc. Another common cause is garbage catching fire which can be caused in several ways such as a cigarette butt thrown carelessly.
3 What is the best way to act in case of a fire incident?
Every fire is a small fire in the beginning but it becomes big if action is not taken immediately. The first thing is to inform the Fire Police.
The sooner we are informed, the quicker action can be taken and the damage can be controlled. Such as in the recent Chandni Chowk fire, the fire happened around 8:30 am but we received information around 9:17 am.
Then, citizens must protect themselves and alert others. They should fight the fire only if they’re trained to do so. If not, they must simply guide the fire department. Several times, we do not find anyone who can guide us with the exact location and we have to find the route ourselves.
3 Is there a system of fire audits in highrise societies of Delhi NCR?
At present, high-rise societies are given a No Objection Certificate
(NOC) for fire safety for 5 years. Every 5 years, an audit is performed to renew it. However, we are bringing a system where the residents and the owners have to audit the fire safety system and submit a report to the department. If they fail to submit a report, their NOC will be cancelled.
4 What is the process to request a fire audit for an RWA?
If an RWA or anyone wants to request a fire audit for a building that already has a NOC, they simply send an email to the Delhi Fire Services.
We don’t charge any fees and our team will go and inspect the building.
In case there is a shortcoming, we will highlight it and advise the concerned parties to rectify it.
Moreover, any resident, any group or RWA can receive fire training by contacting Delhi Fire Services. We don’t charge any fees for that as well. Residents should come forward to receive training because that will go a long way.
5 How can old places such as Chandni Chowk be protected against fire?
It is difficult to fight fires in old places such as Chandni Chowk, Geeta Colony and Sangam Vihar and other congested areas because of narrow lanes and weak structures. Then there is a scarcity of water and a lot of mixed equipment and material at these places. The only prevention is training and awareness. We have also decided to place PCR vans at these markets at all times so that fight can be fought in time.
6 How can the residents of Delhi be more fire safe?
1 Be aware of the hazards in your building
2 Know how to reach out to the Fire Services
3 Know your escape route
4 Check your wiring and load regularly
5 Be aware and alert to any other danger