In Kochi, 300 apartment complexes have high fire risk

From ET Realty

KOCHI: Even as the prospects of ‘hottest summer ever’ looms large on the city, the citizen is facing some additional ‘heat’, which could possibly turn deadly, thanks to unscrupulous builders.

The fire and rescue department, which inspected the city’s apartment complexes, has found that around 300 of them do not have adequate fire-fighting facilities. Given the fact that this is mandatory and a necessity, the department has issued notices to owners of these residential complexes, asking them to rectify flaws within a month or face the prospect of cancellation of their no objection certificates (NOCs).

The department is also planning to send letters to local bodies concerned, recommending the cancellation of occupancy certificates of those apartments which do not take necessary steps within the stipulated time.

“We have inspected apartments in the district and found that around 400 of them lack proper firefighting mechanisms. So, we have issued notices to office-bearers of apartment owners’ associations, asking them to initiate steps to ensure adequate facilities within a month. Of the 400, a vast majority are in Eloor, Kalamassery, Thrikkakara, Ernakulam and Fort Kochi areas,” said V Sidhakumar, district fire officer.

Most apartments don’t have proper signage, lighting or housekeeping departments to maintain firefighting systems.

During the inspection, it was also found that many had blocked emergency exits or used them for dumping waste materials, etc. Some apartments didn’t have water in the sumps which is again mandatory. “The city is quickly growing into a metro and there should be systems in place to prevent accidents. Given the unscientific way in which our roads and buildings are constructed, it is very difficult for our fire engines to reach building. So, we want to ensure that each building has a proper a fire-fighting system. Our personnel then can reach the spot without carrying any equipment. We can extinguish fires using the system in the building itself. This is why we have started the drive,” Sidhakumar said.

“It’s two weeks since we served notices to apartment owners. Some of them have already rectified flaws. We expect others to follow suit,” said an official with the team that conducted the inspection.

“We will also start inspecting cinemas and educational institutions. This will ensure better fire-fighting systems in buildings in the city,” he said.

“It’s up to builders to provide these facilities. If there are shortcomings on fire safety, the builders of apartments are responsible for it. Authorities should have ensured that all facilities are in place before issuing necessary certificates,” said V K Sankarankutty, president, Apartment Owners’ Apex Association.

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