The Fire services department has found 132 high-rise buildings in Bengaluru to be without fire exits or driveways making them fire hazards.
The fire exit is a clear, safe way to get out of a building if a fire breaks out. A driveway is a road leading out of a high-rise building and it should not be less than 12 metres wide. The driveway is to ensure easy movement of fire tenders in case a fire breaks out in the building.
The Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services Department has issued notices to 176 high-rise buildings across the state, including 132 in Bengaluru.
According to K Shivakumar, Director (Technical), Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services Department, Bengaluru west leads the list of high-rise buildings that have no driveways and fire exits at 67 and Bengaluru East is in second place at 65 while there are no violations in North and South Bengaluru.
K Shivakumar adds that there are around 900 high-rise buildings (above 40 metres) in Bengaluru and 114 in other cities in the state but there are only three fire tenders equipped with aerial ladders to reach up to 40 meters of high-rise buildings.
High-rise buildings: Any building with ground plus four floors or more and a total height exceeding 15 metres is considered a high-rise building as per law. These buildings are further classified depending on their usage – residential, educational, institutional – and specific safety guidelines are provided in the National Building Code.
The fire services department started issuing NOC (no objection certificate) to high rise buildings in 1984 with two buildings. From 2004 there was a major surge in the number of high-rise buildings due to the real estate boom and the result of the evolution of the city as the IT capital. As many as 161 high rise buildings obtained NOC in 2004 as against 171 in 2015.
If owners of buildings don’t take measures to ensure safety against fire, we will ask Bescom to disconnect electricity to such buildings and the BBMP to cancel their occupancy certificates.–K Shivakumar, Director (Technical), Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services Department
“Fire auditing is a continuous process. We have already completed the auditing of high-rise buildings and will continue to do so in the future too,’’ says M N Reddi, Director General of Police and Chief of Fire and Emergency Services.
According to reliable sources, M N Reddi had directed the department to conduct a survey of coaching centres across the state and submit the report within a week.
Bangalore Mirror had carried a report on June 3 about how many coaching centres in Bengaluru did not have fire safety measures on their premises. It may be recalled that 20 students were killed and many students were injured when fire broke out in a coaching centre in Surat recently.
“We are taking all precautions to avoid fire mishaps by conducting fire audits. We continue to focus on the high-rise buildings to ensure that buildings are fire safety compliant,’’ says Sunil Agarwal, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services Department.
Speaking with Bangalore Mirror, K Shivakumar, Director (Technical), Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services Department has said the process of issuing notices to 132 high-rise buildings (A category) has been completed.
“We give the owners of these buildings 10 to 20 days to reply to the notices. It is their responsibility to reply to the notices on the measures taken to ensure driveways and fire exits at their buildings. If they fail to do so, we will recommend Bengaluru Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) to disconnect electricity to such buildings. We will write to the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to cancel the occupancy certificates to such buildings,’’ says K Shivakumar.
He said the notices are being sent to high-rise buildings in other cities across the state for not having driveways and fire exits.
“Twenty five notices were served for the owners of high-rise buildings in Mangaluru, 13 in Hubballi-Dharwad, five in Kalaburagi and one in Mysuru,’’ he said.
“We are in the process of purchasing a fire tender vehicle with 90-metre aerial ladder at an estimated cost of Rs 25 crore. I think this vehicle can take care of any fire mishap at high-rise buildings in the city. If all goes well, Karnataka will be a pioneer in having a standby helicopter for evacuation of people from high-rise buildings with helipads. We are in talks with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in this regard. We hired a private helicopter to airlift fire officers from Bengaluru when a building collapsed in Dharwad in March,’’ says Fire and Emergency Services Additional Director General of Police Sunil Agarwal.