Fire Safety Hazard

Fire Safety Hazard

Fire Safety Hazard

Being compliant is a necessary step to be taken. It is not always about business and companies, sometimes normal residential buildings, tuitions, entertainment places ought to be compliant too. For places such as these require more effort and work into being compliant as it directly implies the risks of human lives. Fire safety is one such aspect that comes under serious compliance acts and the risk here is not of penalties or fines, it is the risk of lives being lost. Fire is a major life-threatening and property damaging issue that plays a huge part in making compliance a need. 

In 1970, the Indian Standard Institution published a National Building Code at the instance of the Planning Commission which was revised for the 1st time in 1983. The code involves the guidelines for regulating the building construction works by the government, public construction department or by any local or private construction department. The National Building Code aims at providing safety from fire and fulfilling every requirement it possesses. So as to provide uniform code for every building and construction part of the country, the laws were passed to each state to comply with them. Every state needed to comply with the norms laid down by the National Building Code for their work of development or any building activity they perform.

However, the Delhi Fire Service Act, 2007 provides maintenance of fire services along with prepared and effective methods and provisions for safety from fire and prevention from the fire in some particular buildings and premises under the National Capital Territory of Delhi. 

To meet the changing and challenging modern complex building types, the code was upgraded in 2016, it included aspects like providing "fire lifts" for the firemen in a high rising building in case of an emergency. The upgradation included measures such as "constructing fire-escape staircases" as a form of a way out in any occurrence of an emergency. The other measures include "heavy static water storage" in the form of the underground water tank be made available in buildings to fight fire at the rate of 1000 litres/minute. 

Procedure for obtaining NOC from the fire department

The building plans required for certain buildings are to be submitted to the Local authority such as the DDA, MCD, NDMC, etc. These local authorities ought to forward the plans to the DFS as per clause 2.8 of Unified Building Bye-Laws (UBBL), 2016 also including the duly filled common application form (CAF).

The said clause states that "The building plans for buildings covered under Rule 27 of Delhi Fire Service Rules shall be marked fire and life safety measures as per the National Building Code of India concerning minimum standards for fire prevention and fire protection including but not limited to smoke management system, access to the building or premise, fire extinguishers, exit signage as covered under Rule 33 of the Delhi Fire Service Rules as amended from time to time; unless otherwise specified in these bye-laws".

Risk Assessment

In case of any risk or accident, the liability is always on the owner or the occupier of that building. As per the Delhi Fire Service, the responsibility is never authorized on any person or vendor. 

Rule 38 states very clearly that the water supply and electricity supply shall be disconnected by the concerned authority of the said building or premises if during the inspection it is found that the owner or the occupier of the property is missing with or violating the prevention of fire safety even after being provided with the proper resources. The local body or the authority looing after or responsible for the inspection is liable in being compliant with the laws of fire safety. 

Rule 40 further states that it is completely upon the Director or any officer authorized by him has the right to cancel the Fire Safety Certificate if there is a case of a failure in complying with the measure provided under Rule 39 after the owner/occupier is given a chance to show cause, why such an order should not be passed by an order in writing affirming the reasons therefor. The time provided under Rule 39 is between 90 to 180 days to comply with the rules under Section 34 of the Act. 

The Fire Safety Certificate that is issued under Rule 35 shall remain rejected from the date of notice issued under sub-rule (1) till the compliance is made to the satisfaction of the Director or the Nominated Authority and this shall be duly recorded on the Fire Safety Certificate. Moreover, it plainly says that the occupancy of the building or premises during the time allowed for completion of work under sub-rule (1) and sub-rule (2) above shall be at the risk and liability of the owner or occupier. 

The accidents of fire in some cases have left the government more stringent for fire safety compliance and in cases such as in the most famous Uphaar Cinema Fire, where fifty-nine people were trapped inside and died of asphyxiation, while 103 were seriously injured in the resulting stampede. This case is an example of how cinemas responsible for so many lives had no red alert, no exit gates more than one, no announcement was made, no footlights or emergency lights were there, which made it impossible for people to see anything. There are many such cases, Surat fire case, Kamala Mills fire case, Meerut Victoria Park case and many such cases are examples that lead to the emergency of being compliant. Moreover, it was found that the owners of the cinema have extended the seats even being unauthorized and that the exit gates were blocked. There were no signs of prevention of fire safety at all and such cases are live examples of every unit and sector with public liability to comply with fire safety laws.

Risk assessment is a  crucial step and so is the work of the inspectors as in many cases, the unattentive behaviour of an officer may lead to severe punishments and fines if one is found violating the prevention of fire safety laws.