VIJAYAWADA: AT a time when the government is boasting of building a world-class capital city at Amaravati, meeting all the international safety standards, many of its key facilities including bus and railway stations, hospitals and offices in Vijayawada give the implementation of fire safety norms a go-by.
Be it Pandit Nehru Bus Station (PNBS), railway station, hospitals, court complex and other government premises, lack of focus on implementation of fire safety norms is visibly far from adequate. Most of the government offices here are functioning from old buildings.
“New constructions coming up in the capital region are applying for the NOCs. However, the older ones promptly give it a miss, with no fire fighting equipment installed in their facilities,” district fire officer Niranjan Reddy said.
The PNBS, considered as the busiest one in the State with footfalls of thousands in a day, do not have fire extinguishers on the platforms. There is no water sprinkler apparatus, sand buckets and other mandatory equipment.
The Fire officials blame the laxity on the ‘weak laws.’”We are empowered to only suggest the fire safety measures required for a facility. We do not have the power to enforce stringent measures over buildings or government premises without NOCs,” said Niranjan Reddy, adding that repeated awareness programmes were being conducted to government officials and departments, but they yielded a little.
“No major fire accidents has been reported from our premises so far and they are not fire accident prone zones,” said a government official.
The hospitals also reply in the same tone, when Express inquired about the available fire fighting equipment on their premises.
The National Building Code (NBC) 2005 has clearly laid out the safety specifications for hospital buildings, but majority of them appears to be on pills of negligence. “It is true that a little attention has been paid to fire safety norms. Soon, we will install the equipment,” Jagan Mohan Reddy, Vijayawada GGH superintendent told Express.
The district fire officials said that the ‘weak fire safety laws’ hinders them to enforce stringent measures against the hospitals running without obtaining the mandatory NOCs.
“It is not clear as to how much the city hospitals are prepared to tackle with fire accidents,” said district fire officer D Niranjan Reddy.
Many hospital buildings in the city which are above 15 metres do not even have a way for passage of fire engines. National Building Code (NBC) says hospital buildings must have external staircases, emergency windows, sufficient fire fighting apparatus, water sump and water tank. “Fire Department is not strong enough to pressurise hospitals to obtain NOCs. We do not posses that power according to AP Fire Safety Act 1999,” D Niranjan Reddy said.