Firemen rescue a blaze victim from Surya Sen market
No one will be allowed to sleep on the premises at night and hydrants must be installed at strategic places. These are some of the measures that the fire brigade wants the traders of Sealdah’s fire-ravaged Surya Sen market to follow before the shops can be allowed to reopen.
A devastating blaze on February 27 at the five-storey building which houses the cramped market killed 21 people sleeping there. The building has a basement, but it has been cleared out after the fire that, according to reports, caused maximum damage to a mezzanine floor.
The safety guidelines were drawn after chief minister Mamata Banerjee told the fire department and the traders on Saturday to ensure all checks before the market reopens.
The merchants had petitioned the government to allow them to open their establishments, citing loss of income.
“We will not allow the market to reopen if the traders don’t implement the measures,” fire service minister Javed Khan said.
The high point of the suggestions — sent to the traders on Monday — is keeping the entire building off-limits for people at night. That means nobody can sleep there.
Only guards will be allowed in, but even they must keep to the ground floor.
“We cannot compromise on the safety measures. We have handed over the guidelines to the traders’ association. It is not our responsibility to see whether the traders or the shopkeepers implement the measures. That is for them to decide,” Khan said.
The fire department will inspect the market after 15 days. “The guidelines must be implemented across the market, not just the gutted portion,” Khan added.
The measures include:
• Creation of an underground water reservoir. If that is not feasible, a deep tubewell should be ready to supply water during a fire or any other exigency. Adequate arrangements should be made to pump water from the tubewell to the upper floors.
• High-pressure hoses should be in place so that traders can operate them before firefighters reach the spot.
• A diesel generator should be ready 24x7 to power the water pumps if electricity trips or deliberately snapped during a fire.
• CCTVs to be installed on every floor to help firefighters and security personnel chalk strategies to tackle a situation with real-time images.
• Automatic circuit-breakers are a must at each shop to prevent fires from short-circuits.