The Director General, Fire and Emergency Service, has been asked by the government to carry out a fire safety audit of all government buildings in Jammu and Kashmir “immediately”.
Depicting urgency, the government has asked all the concerned Administrative Secretaries to take immediate corrective action in light of the Fire Safety Audit Reports so furnished to them for preventing occurrence of fire incidents in all buildings of their Departments.
The announcement, in the right direction, follows blazes in government buildings including traffic police headquarters and police station Kothibagh. It also comes in the backdrop of the tragic death of 27 people in the Mundka fire incident in New Delhi. It essentially exposed the fire safety standards of commercial and institutional buildings, factories, hospitals and even schools.
Also earlier this year Bone and Joint hospital Srinagar was gutted and these incidents exposed “fire safety audits” itself. The fire in the buildings ought to have served as a wakeup call and get the “fire safety audits” right.
It is imperative that they should put out a checklist to prevent fires and also save people in case such untoward incidents happen. They should ensure that all the fire safety guidelines for hospitals and other buildings issued by the government of India, prioritising a strict compliance strategy, third party accreditation on safety, and adoption of a fire response plan are in place.
Regarding hospitals, Professionals call for ICUs to be equipped with an exhaust system to prevent smoke accumulation, ventilation, cut-outs to prevent a blaze from spreading, periodic maintenance of safety equipment and, very importantly, an evacuation plan for the sickest patients, who may be attached to life-saving equipment. All these needed to be ensured and important within possibly little time to ensure that patients admitted to the facilities remain safe. The safety of people should be of paramount consideration for all the concerned. There is a need to ensure that fire fighting measures are in place at all institutions to provide a safe environment to all including patients and employees or locals visiting them. The recent fire incidents highlight the need to identify gaps and fill them on priority. Every institution needs to have trained dedicated staff to maintain the fire safety standards. The government needs to take all the measures required to prevent incidents. Fire safety audit is a step in the right direction and should be followed by all measures needed to prevent blazes.