Incidences of fire, unfortunately, have increased. All districts of Jammu and Kashmir including Srinagar and Jammu have had a brush with destructive fires recurrently. Sadly several lives were lost. Tragically also, properties worth crores of rupees were reduced to ashes. The public memory seems notoriously short and naturally, there is a shock when some people lose their dwelling and household properties, collected painstakingly for years, to the fire accident.
The frequency increases during winters and just as the season wanes into spring. Every occurrence of fire brings to the fore the problem of adopting an incremental approach to safety. The safety lies in modern technologies and also preparedness. People in general and those at the helm of affairs give goby to both.
There is always negligence on part of people in ignoring among others overloading of the power wire or sockets, or through the use of faulty electrical appliances, electrical room heaters or electric blankets.
People fail to incorporate fire safety measures during construction and installing fire extinguishers, at home and offices.
The burning issues brought to the fore during most fire incidents have remained more or less the same over the years, underscoring that smokescreens are put up to hide the poor standards of firefighting gear.
The Fire and Emergency Services should analyse the recent fire incidents and try to identify the common causes, if not already done. Based on the analysis, a public sensitisation drive can be launched to make people observe the necessary precautions. The department should also provide inputs to the concerned so that such incidents can be stopped by observing certain rules about building houses, laying electric lines and using things like cooking and heating gas.
Unfortunately also, the fire hydrants have vanished or are non-functional at most places. Not only this, the road obstructions are such that fire tenders seldom reach the spot on time causing considerable delays in extinguishing the blaze. The administration needs to put the focus on effective enforcement of the National Building Code and related laws which specify the demarcation of fire zones, restrictions on construction of buildings in each fire zone, classification of buildings based on occupancy, types of building construction according to fire resistance of the structural and non-structural components and other restrictions and requirements necessary to minimize dangers to life from fire, smoke, fumes or panic.