Keeping in view the mushrooming of coaching centres in the city, the local bodies department has issued new fire safety norms for these centres to follow. Now, the centres are divided in three categories based on the area, and the owners will have to make arrangements accordingly.
But sources said this may again remain a policy on paper if the authorities do not make an attempt to find out the exact number of tuition centres operating in the city and hold them all equally responsible.
The guidelines are notified and will be implemented in the entire state. The notification is the result of a writ petition that is being heard in Punjab and Haryana high court. Also, after the Surat coaching centre tragedy last year, the authorities were working on to bring some norms for the coaching centres.
The three categories are: coaching centres running in existing shop-cum-office and shop-cum-flat having height less than 15m, those running in standalone commercial complexes/buildings having height not more than 15m and coaching centres running in all other establishments having height more than 15m.
These norms will be applicable with immediate effect and will be implemented by the fire and town planning wings of urban local bodies. The NOC from fire department will have to be obtained by the building owner/occupants within one year for high-rise buildings (15 meters and above) and within six months for buildings having height less than 15 meters from the date of issuance of this notification. Failing which, the coaching centre will be sealed by fire wing/urban local bodies.
However, neither the fire department nor the municipal corporation (MC) have exact data on how many tuition centres are operational in the city. Not only in the commercial areas, even in residential areas many oaching centres have popped up in the recent past. There is single entry/exit in most of the buildings and fire arrangements are also insufficient.
According to the fire department, only big industrial houses, schools, hospitals and big malls are applying for fire NOC. In the last one year, the fire accidents that have occurred are mostly in places that had no fire NOC.
Advisor to Punjab fire department Bhupinder Sandhu, said, “Earlier also fire NOC was mandatory for these coaching centres, but there were no clear cut directions or norms. Now, we have divided the coaching centres in three categories.” He said all the fire officials in the state are sent this information. “Fire NOC will be issued according to new guidelines and if coaching centres or institutes will not get NOC, then local fire officials have been given the powers to seal the centre,” he added.
Meanwhile, requesting anonymity, one of the fire officials claimed that coaching centres are often located in places where changes are not possible — for example, he said, most often there is space for only one entry and exit — and they cannot force the owner to open a second entry/exit. He said these changes are possible in standalone locations only. He said fire department is going through the norms to see how the new rules can be implemented, but he insisted that it may not be possible without the support from town planning wing of the MC.
Required fire safety arrangements
Fire extinguishers required in all types of categories
First-aid hose reel
Automatic sprinkler system
Manually operated electronic fire alarm system
Automatic detection and alarm system
Underground static water storage tank