HYDERABAD:All it takes is a single spark to ignite an entire tent at an outdoor concert, marriage or public event leading to a major fire breakout and potential fatal accidents.
Regrettably, awareness about what to do if a fire breaks out seems to be low among those holding public meetings, marriages or functions as fire preparedness is minimal, say officials. The option of keeping fire tenders stand by is least exercised nor is there a fire audit.
"Many do not understand the importance of having stand-by vehicles at places where there is a large gathering. At concerts or marriages where electrical modifications are carried out, the need for fire-tenders is much more because short-circuit in such cases usually happens," observed M Srinivas Reddy, district fire officer, Hyderabad.
A look into the total number of stand-by vehicles availed in Hyderabad in 2017 would reveal that only on 20 occasions - including the annual industrial & agricultural exhibition (Numaish) were the services availed. A much worse situation exists with regard to the recently-launched fire audits service as only six persons or establishments have availed the service, and all of them are public sector banks. The reason: the department charges anywhere between Rs 1,250 and Rs 3,000 per hour for a stand-by vehicle and from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 for a fire audit.
"In all the six audits, the escape system was faulty or minimum preference was given to it. Moreover, fire exit drills, which need to be done every three months in case of a building with less than 3 years of age, are not conducted," explained Reddy.
It may be noted that several realtors are of their own free will and flout fire safety rules after the fire services department increased the validity of an NOC to five years. "Surprise inspections help but it is difficult to check all the buildings. The yearly mechanism of filing for NOC would have ensured that our officer inspected the building but that is flouted now," said sources.
Currently, the fire department is providing services only in case of huge gatherings in view of the large number of fire calls received by it. "Unless it is a massive fire, we do not send stand-by vehicles because attending fire calls is our priority," said V Papaiah, RFO. It is compulsory for the managements of high-rise buildings and organisers of outdoor functions and concerts to keep their security officers vigilant for any fire breakout, he added.