We take a look at the fire safety measures in Janakpuri and Rajouri Garden to know how well prepared they are to combat any fire outbreak.
Janakpuri and Rajouri Garden are quite neglected in terms of proper fire safety measures in their area. Apart from the residential colonies where most of the time wires are entangled, commercial complexes don't have proper fire safety equipments. Fire outbreaks in recent past have proved that.
In November, a major fire broke out in Janakpuri District centre. The incident had occurred due to lack of fire-fighting measures. Three floors of the Vishwa Sadan building at the district centre were gutted in the fire that broke out in the wee hours.
The fire broke out on the seventh floor following a short circuit. According to few officials, the fire spread as there were no water sprinklers and the buildings were ill-maintained. More than seven fire engines came to control the fire.
"Lease deeds of five towers were cancelled because of serious violation of terms related to fire and other conditions," said Nitin Chadda, a shopkeeper.
The association members as well as the shopkeepers have written letters to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the fire department several times but no action has been taken in this regard.
The fire officials then had admitted that the incident occurred due to lack of maintenance and no frequent checks of the fire safety measures in the building.
"Fire hydrants have become dry, alarm is almost defunct and surprisingly the space provided for keeping ground water reservoir tanks in front of the police station is being used as parking. One can clearly see that free spaces kept for fire vehicles near the hydrants are being used as illegal parking. Basements have electric transformers and generator sets against rules and regulations," said Rishab Sachdev, one of the shopkeepers in Janakpuri District Centre.
"Many water tankers on buildings' terrace are never filled and are of no use in case of any fire. Even a basic sprinkler system is not present in the district centre basements and its towers. With so many towers around the centre, basements are highly vulnerable and a spark here can easily turn into a big blaze and still remain unnoticed," said Manish Khullad, another shopkeeper of the area.
Rajouri Garden and BK Dutt Marg too are sitting on a tinderbox due to lack of fire safety measures coupled with exposed electric wires. "More than two decades have passed since the last upgrade was done. Every now and then new shops open without the infrastructure being improved," said Preet Singh Chawla, president of DEK Welfare Association.
One can notice entangled wires on almost all electricity poles in the markets as well as residential colonies. Last year, a fire broke at a restaurant in the market. The incident was reported to the fire department when people noticed smoke emanating from the first and second floor of the restaurant.
"Five fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the fire was brought under control. But the fire safety measures have to be improved as thousands of people visit the markets every day," said Mahesh Tripathi, a shopkeeper. According to the shopkeepers, the markets have become so congested and chaotic that if a major fire breaks out, then it will be difficult for the fire tenders to come and tackle it.
"We often see sparks coming out from these wires but nothing much has been done. Sparking may lead to a major fire or electrocution," said Ritika Chadda, a resident.
"People have been using air conditioners more than the limited capacity. Most of the fire incidents that occur in the market are related to short circuit. "There is no fire alarm in most of the shops," said Manish, a shopkeeper. Raja Garden also has few coaching institutes which are not following the basic fire norm and has no second exit.
When inquired about the lapses, deputy chief fire officer, (South and West), AK Sharma said, "We have been taking action on any fire incident reported. There has been no problem from our side."
Chandra Prakash Kamat, PRO BSES said, "The project of replacing entangled wires is very big and we are sorting it out area wise. We have replaced more than 1.5 km of overhead wires with insulated cables recently in Rajouri Garden area."
Essential fire safety measures:
• Automatic fire suppression systems (eg: sprinkler systems).
• Fire hose reels
• Fire hydrants
• Automatic fire detection and alarm systems
• Fire extinguishers
• Smoke exhaust systems
• Exit signs
• Emergency lighting