Understaffed Fire Dept asked to undertake ambitious fire audit

Sakal Times
Saturday, 30 December 2017

Pune Cantonment Board has issued notices to Hotel Aurora Towers, Snehal Restaurant, Leather Lounge, among others, asking them to adhere to the guidelines to avoid any mishap.

Pune: In the aftermath of the Kamala Mills Compound fire tragedy, Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar has issued an order for a fire audit in Pune city.  

Since 1987, when the issuing of fire no objection certificates (NOC) commenced, 13,988 NOCs have been accorded. Given this whopping number and the acute staff crunch in the fire department, implementation of the order appears infeasible.

The commissioner’s letter, dated December 30, ordered the chief fire officer to conduct a fire audit of all those commercial complexes having large public presence in areas under PMC that have been given NOC, or for which permission has been granted for carrying out a particular business but being used otherwise or where illegal alterations have been resorted to. 

The audit, which is to be conducted in conjunction with the departments of the City Engineer and Health, is to be completed by January 15, 2018.

Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Prashant Ranpise told Sakal Times about the implementation of the commissioner’s order. 
“Given the magnitude of the task, I will suggest taking help of the agencies accredited by the government to carry out fire audit. There are 30-35 such agencies in the city,” said Ranpise. 

When asked about the capability of the fire department to identify complexes having illegal constructions, CFO Ranpise asserted that personnel from the Building Permission Department will have to be incorporated into 
the audit. 

“The fire department, by itself, can assess only the firefighting system in a complex. A meeting is expected to be held on Monday. I anticipate that teams comprising members from the fire, city engineer and health departments will be constituted for the purpose of the audit,” he added. 

A daunting task
 Since 1987, around 13,988 NOCs have been issued.
 To carry out an audit of all NOCs before Jan 15, hundreds of properties will have to be personally visited for audit purpose. 
 An official from the fire department, on condition of anonymity, revealed that only fire officer can carry out this audit. 
 At the moment, there are 11 fire officers in Pune of which two are away for training purpose. 
 When asked about the most fire hazard-prone areas in the city, Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Prashant Ranpise identified them as the large slum areas like Lohiya Nagar, Kasarwadi and Janta Wasahat. “These slums have very narrow roads. So the fire tenders cannot reach them in case of an outbreak of fire. Slums, because of the construction material used, are highly combustible, as against flats. So the damage can be swift and severe.”

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