Surat fire: Who is to blame?

Last year, the newspaper was flooded with news reports displaying the many catastrophic fires that broke into different cities, killing innocent lives. In this year we have Surat as the other target where 22 genuine lives have been murdered in the blink of an eye on 25th May afternoon.

It happened in a rooftop of Takshashila Complex, where a hopeful bunch of students were awaiting for their Class XII results, and little did they know that their end was alongside, following a mammoth like blaze. The children who died in this incident were from the age group 17 to 18. They  were students who were imparting art and craft training in the third floor of the complex where the fire took place.

“20 people have died and more than 20 have been injured in the fire that broke out in Surat yesterday. An FIR has been registered against three people,” Satish Sharma, of Police Surat tells NDTV. Many from the side of witnesses complain regarding the delay of the fire brigade to reach the affected area. One of them quotes- “ It took the fire brigade 40-45 minutes to reach the place despite the fire station being just 2 km away from the building”. It was even more horrific to see students jumping from the floor in order to save themselves.

Police Commissioner Satish Kumar told The Indian Express that the fire is suspected to have started either from the air conditioner compressor or some electrical equipment in (one of ) the classes. The fire then spread through the wooden stairway, which connected the third floor to the terrace, where the classes were held.

There were few other devastating fire that broke in the city of Mumbai, which took place last year inside a restaurant in a four storey building on Senapati Bapat Marg, killing many lives. Out of many causes, the one that lead to this grief- stricken situation was the use of substandard quality products in maintaining the restaurant.

There have been countless recurring reports on fire that goes unnoticed by the people in charge or they are forgotten after few days of shallow discussions. The fire cannot be called as an accident in an unsafe building with defective constructions. There are buildings even now which stands tall with  ill-fates. Now, the question arises as to whether our complains make any impact in the course of action on the perpetrators ?

The urban cities are in bigger risk due to natural and men made disasters. The city’s Municipal Corporation should take serious action to reduce the response time in order to minimise loss of life and property. Also, the nature of the tragedy should correctly accessed for a quick support and solution without any further delay.

Rather than being mere spectators to a ghastly event such as fire, the public should be the one ringing the alarm bell. They should learn the meaning and the difference between a movie and a live disaster. The building owners should keep telephone agencies number at a place convenient to reach during a calamity. There was another fire that broke in a coaching center in the city of Surat last year. Still, the fire authority believes in the concept of remaining static with their actions with hardly any preventing measures to terminate the calamities. Apart from the specific State Acts and Rules stated above, a number of legislation are available on matters relating to fire prevention and fire protection are one of them.

We need a vigilant assessment in order to survive the potential fire hazards. We must not ignore the codes and standards related to fire safety. BIS has formulated more than 150 standards on fire safety in buildings and firefighting equipment. Few of them are  rubber and plastic, educational institutions, fixed automatic sprinkler fire extinguisher systems and many more.

It is an urgent need to send these issues to the court with mandatory rules to review poorly constructed buildings. The administration should pull down buildings that are poorly constructed with negligible safeguard from any fire calamities. It is also cardinal to insure the public buildings against fire risk. The fire department leaves a sordid history of mass murder in not being  responsible in time.

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