In the absence of fire audits, Ludhiana premises remain powder kegs waiting to explode
The major fire that broke out at Swami Vivekanand Vihar Flats near DAV School, BRS Nagar has once again highlighted the vulnerability of residential and commercial premises in the industrial hub. With a long overdue fire audit, stakeholders are often negligent when it comes to implementing safety protocols, putting lives and property at risk. When asked if fire safety equipment had been installed in the high-rise residential building, a senior fire official said: “The building had fire safety equipment such as sprinkler hoses and fire hydrants but they had been obsolete for years and were of no use to the fire department we had to lay water lines from the ground floor to the fifth floor to put out the flames , which delayed the operation.Another firefighter said: “The firefighting operation would have been much smoother if the fire hydrants and the fire safety systems installed in the apartments had been in working order. We would only have to attach a hose and the sprinklers would have turned on.Apartments and industrial buildings, which store flammable chemicals, are a high fire hazard and should not give up on the mes fire safety devices. Swami Vivekanand Vihar Welfare Society Secretary Vinay Gupta said, “We had installed fire safety systems in the apartments, but since we had never needed to use them before, they had developed a problem,” did he declare. Relevantly, several senior officials including Police Co-Commissioner Narinder Bhargav, Area Commissioner Jasdev Sekhon and firefighters clean-shaven after a gas cylinder exploded in one of the burning apartments. There are around 1 lakh of industrial and commercial buildings in the city, and there are several apartments in and around the city, especially Chandigarh Road, BRS Nagar and Sant Ishar Singh Nagar. However, the civic body has yet to take concrete steps to ensure that fire safety standards are not ignored. Former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had announced a fire audit of buildings after a plastics factory near Suffiyan Chowk collapsed after a fire broke out at the premises. Sixteen people lost their lives in the tragedy. On the possibility of firefighters carrying out an audit in the near future, an official familiar with the matter said: “It is impossible for the firefighters to carry out an audit due to the lack of personnel, and even if we carry out inspections, no legal action can be taken against the owners. The official, quoted above, said fire safety standards will only be strictly followed after a separate fire department is established in the state and fire officials will have the authority to take action against the offenders. However, Municipal Corporation Commissioner Shena Aggarwal said the state government is working to enact a fire safety law and a separate fire directorate. “A proper fire safety audit will be carried out in the city after the establishment of the directorate. Meanwhile, instructions will be given to relevant officials to ensure that fire safety standards are met in apartments and other high-rise buildings in different parts of the city.