Disaster : Fire Incidents

  • Three-storey building in Delhi’s Bawana industrial area was registered as a plastic factory but was used illegally as a unit to package and store firecrackers
  • Seventeen people were killed, including seven women
  • Around 50 workers were trapped inside the three-floor unit, and Delhi Fire Services said a majority of the deaths were caused by burns while a few died after inhaling toxic fumes.
Reasons for accident:
  • Firecrackers were stocked in the rented building that had no fire evacuation plan
  • Only two fire extinguishers, and a lone exit that was allegedly locked when the blaze broke out.
  • The few windows it has were welded shut with wire meshes and iron grilles. 
  • Constitutionally preventing and fighting fire hazards is a municipal function in India.
  • The Disaster Management Act, 2005 (Section 41) and the National Policy on Disaster Management, 2009 (para 3.2.9) require the local bodies (i.e., PRI, municipalities, district and cantonment boards, town planning authorities) which control and manage civic services to ensure capacity building of their officers and employees for managing disasters.
Shortcomings in the present system
Lack of:
  • Unified fire services in some of the states;
  • Proper organisational structure, training and career progression of its personnel;
  • Adequate modern equipment and their scaling, authorization & standardization;
  • Appropriate and adequate funding;
  • Training institutions;
  • Infrastructural facilities – fire stations and accommodation of personnel etc.;
  • Vulnerability analysis;
  • Public awareness (DOs & DON’Ts), conduct of regular mock exercises and evacuation drills; and
  • Uniform fire safety legislation in some of the states.

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