In the wake of many fire incidents reported in last few months, the subject of fire safety and its management has become hot topic of discussion among residents in the city. The residents are alarmed and they want proper check of the fire safety system installed in the societies.
Seeing the situation, City Spidey paid visits to many societies in Dwarka to assess the condtion of fire safety mechanisms. During the conversation with the residents, City Spidey came to know startling facts. At many places, people were not aware about the fire safety mechanism installed in the societies.
However, many high rises, developed by Cooperative Group Housing Societies (CGHS) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA), were found to be lacking in proper safety mechanism. It was seen that either the fire fighting system was damaged or non-functional.
Broken pipes, damaged alarms, missing tools and many such things were found to be common at these societies. The condition is even worse at the multi-storied buildings developed by DDA.
Amid such a scenario, there is a serious threat to the people living at these societies. The managements of the societies were also found to be least bothered about the prevailing situation.
In Dwarka, there are more than 350 high rise residential societies. All these societies got NOCs from the fire department. As per the rules, these certificates are valid for five years. Also, the societies are required to submit a report stating the proper status of the fire safety mechanisms every year.
But, ironically, these societies were nonchalant about these norms. The defunct state of the fire safety equipment clearly showed that there has been ignorance from the fire department as well.
General Secretary of Federation of CGHS, Dwarka, Sudha Sinha said, “This is unfortunate that the managements are not serious about the maintenance of the fire fighting systems. They always take the situation very lightly. We tried to make the community aware but ultimately it is up to the management and residents to improve the situation.”
Residents in the societies are often reluctant to say anything against the management as they want to avoid any altercations. The managements are not pressurised to improve the condition. The situation is same at commercial buildings as well.
Many people said that fire fighting systems were installed about 15-20 years back. And, the only intention behind it was procurement of NOC from fire department. The management forgot about it afterwards. Nobody does periodical inspections.
“Managing committees come and go in every society, but no attention is given towards this vital requirement. If the system hasn't been tested, or has not had routine maintenance, it can put everyone at risk. In the absence of fines and penalties, occupiers or societies do not bother to conduct regular maintenance of the fire prevention systems. Therefore, it is a need of the community as well as authorities to think and plan out a method to have a full-proof fire prevention and fire fighting system,” said Radhika Singh, a resident of Sector 6.
People who are aware and want to raise the issue shared that the negligence is on both the parts, from the side of agencies and also from the side of the society’s managements too.
Rejimon CK, an RTI activist and a member of Dwarka Forum, has been writing on the subject to the authorities. He said, “This is the responsibility of the people, 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 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 were not serious about the subject and the number of renewal of certificates was very low. “This is unfortunate that there is a very poor response from the side of the society’s managements. Most of the societies are not following the norms,” he said.
According to officials, inspections were carried out at only those societies for which complaints were received. As said by them, few complaints were received and societies were sent notices to get the fire fighting system fit in 90 days. If the work was not completed in three months, there was 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 City Spidey asked him that was there any case of any connection cut in the societies in Dwarka, he replied that he could not remember any such case. Now the whole thing is upon the community and the managements of the societies to keep the fire fighting system maintained to fight with any odd condition.