RMC plans fire audit of buildings

The move comes in the wake of last week’s Surat tragedy

By Our Correspondent in Ranchi
  • Published 29.05.19, 5:56 AM
  • Updated 29.05.19, 5:56 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Gopal Complex on Kutchery Road in Ranchi on Tuesday Picture by Prashant Mitra

The city corporation has asked all building owners to submit a report on fire-fighting systems installed, the move coming in the wake of last week’s Surat tragedy in which 22 students died after a blaze in the building housing their coaching centre.

“The order issued on Tuesday concerns two categories of buildings, ie, those with a minimum height of 15 meters and the other with total floor area 500 sq meter or more,” said Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) town planner Manoj Kumar.

He said the RMC was interested to know whether buildings had completion and occupancy certificates.

“Once construction is complete, it is necessary for the owner or developer of a building to submit a report to the RMC which conducts an inspection, and if it is satisfied, issues a completion certificate. For people to move in, the building must have a an occupancy certificate. But often, builders and developers ignore these two post-construction processes,” Kumar said.

Kumar said an inspection team headed by him would start doing the rounds of buildings, probably from Wednesday, to look into fire-fighting and architectural arrangements.

“Teams of engineers are being formed to be dispatched in various localities. Our circular states clearly that in case of violations stringent action will be taken and the building sealed. We will also see whether no-objection certificates have been obtained from the fire department,” he said.

The Telegraph had reported on Sunday about fire safety measures at a number of coaching centres in Ranchi (Surat lessons for coaching classes). Architecturally, most buildings did not appear emergency-friendly. Also, most buildings lacked a fire escape. The location of two coaching centres at a building in Club Road was such that a fire tender would find it tough to enter.

Kumar said the RMC order has two operative parts. One is on fire safety, while the other is related to the structure of buildings. A physical verification is being undertaken to see if buildings have the requisite number of fire extinguishers on each floor, whether these were of the right size and weight, and whether these were capable of dousing flames caused by electricity, oil, gas or combustible materials.

“On the engineering aspects, buildings must have a staircase and fire exits. Each floor must be equipped with a fire hydrant with provisions to store water in overhead and underground tanks. The fire hydrant must have an external point fire engines to tap into if required. The parking area of a building must have a sprinkler system,” he said.

While Kumar did not have an idea of the number of buildings in Ranchi, RMC sources claimed there were over 3,000 buildings of which barely 100 had occupancy rights.