Building rules violations increased toll? - The New Indian Express

Building rules violations increased toll?

Published: 26th April 2013 09:07 AM

Last Updated: 26th April 2013 09:17 AM

Blatant violation of building rules and safety norms led to the fire mishap that killed four persons in Coimbatore on Thursday. After the gory fire in the building, officials here have realised that three floors of the structure came up illegally.

“The builder had permission to build only the ground and first floors. But they had built up to four floors. I have directed to issue notice to the builder today itself,” Coimbatore Collector M Karunakaran, who is also the chairman of the Local Planning Authority, said.

It is unclear how the blatant violation in the building, which has remained a prominent landmark in the city for nearly 10 years, went unnoticed by officials for so long. More sordidly, the four-storey building, in which a dozen offices were functioning, had just one narrow staircase to evacuate people at the time of emergency.

Even more shocking was the fact that the fire alarm system, which was installed in the building, never went off even as flames engulfed two floors.

Firemen could not find even a single fire extinguisher in the entire building to put out the blaze.

“Since the building was below 15 metres in height, it did not require a fire safety certificate. But I think the building licensing authorities should have been more cautious,” a senior fire department official said. The absence of an enough windows for the smoke to go out of the building turned the fire fatal, suffocating several inmates, the fire department official added.

“Buildings having glass walls on all sides combined with the style of architecture leave little chance to rescue trapped inmates. Also, in cases of fire accidents, heat and smoke get accumulated inside the building and spending just three minutes inside can cause death,” said Deputy Director of Fire and Rescue Services (Western Region) M Shahul Hameed.

“In fact, the glass walls had hampered the rescue operation. Glass cracks due to the heat and there is always a danger that it would fall on us,” said a fireman.

One of the firemen sustained injuries to the eye after a shard of glass fell on him during rescue operations on Thursday.

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