DELHI: Four out of 10 buildings in Delhi do not comply with the safety norms, according to fire officers. The unsafe buildings include residential and commercial complexes, schools and nursing homes. Even the playschool which caught fire on June 10 did not have a no-objection certificate (NOC), the officers said.
Apart from commercial complexes, critical establishments like schools and hospitals also don’t follow the norms, endangering the lives of patients; 47 nursing homes in the city don’t have a fire NOC. The officers added that 690 nursing homes comply partially and are yet to address the shortcomings.
To make things worse, nearly 1,500 schools don’t have a fire clearance and about 3,235 have partial compliance. Most of these schools are unaided or junior and playschools without a proper affiliation.
Punjab National Bank’s head office in Sansad Marg had caught fire in May 2012. The building did not follow the new rules introduced by Delhi Fire Service in 2010.
To get a fire NOC, the building owner must comply with a list of 12 measures, including smoke windows, escape routes, fire extinguishers and trained personnel. The sources said most of the building owners considered installation of a fire extinguisher sufficient to control a blaze, but this solves only part of the problem. “Most of these structures do not have a proper escape route and a space to assemble in an emergency. In most cases, commercial buildings show escape routes and smoke windows in their building plans but in reality these are blocked, creating a trap,” says DFS chief A K Sharma.
Sharma said that a fire-safety check is conducted on every public building each year and an audit report is made within three months. “The firemen first inspect the building to identify the shortcomings, which are communicated to the building owner. They are then given time to rectify the problems,” he explained.
However, most people fail to get back to the fire department after the rectification time, so an NOC is not issued. The fire department at the most serve notice but has no prosecution powers. Officers blame this for people’s lack of seriousness in following the norms or obtaining an NOC.