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HRBC Building passes fire test

Calcutta, Sept. 28: The fire and emergency services department today certified that the HRBC Building in Howrah, where several government departments will shift next month, is equipped to handle any fire-related emergency.

Following a two-and-a-half-hour drill, department officials said they were satisfied with the arrangements and had suggested some “minor” changes before the phased shift.

The “official” no-objection certificate will be given in a week.

“Barring a few minor changes, the building now has all the necessary fire-fighting measures,” said D.P. Tarenia, director-general, fire and emergency services. “Before today’s drill, we had recommended certain changes and those have already been made.”

Today, water hydrants and sprinklers on each floor were checked. In the chief minister’s chamber on the top floor, a sprinkler was set on fire to test if the system was working. As water gushed out, the officials heaved a sigh of relief.

“The water pressure is fine on the top floor. The staircases are wide enough to serve as fire exits,” said P. Ramesh Kumar, the secretary of the fire and emergency services department. “The hydraulic lift that will be installed at the building can reach up to 21 floors. The lift will be stationed near the main entrance.”

The team also checked the parking lot at the basement of the 15-storey building. “There are enough pumps. We have recommended installation of an exhaust machine at the basement,” said Tapan Ghosh, a fire official.

The only concern, sources said, is the slow speed of the five lifts. “The lifts will have to be made faster before the shift,” another official said.