The lack of fire safety precautions was the major cause for concern as the Fire and Rescue Services Department observed Fire Services Day on Saturday. Observance of Fire Services Week will continue till April 20 to drive home the message of prevention and also quick response to disaster. The campaign will be done in schools, colleges, and various other establishments.

Deputy Director of Fire and Rescue Services R.G. Jayakanthan, Divisional Fire and Rescue Services Officer N. Subramanian, Additional Divisional Fire and Rescue Services Officer, P. Krishnamurthy and Station Fire Officer P. Annandurai paid respects to firemen who lost their lives while discharging their duty.

The theme of the observance this year is ‘Smoke management to save lives.' The underlying message is that many lives are smothered by the thick smoke, in addition to those that tongues of flames claim. But, the major concern is about what causes fire and the resultant loss of lives.

A strong view among fire services officials is that poor preventive measures and violation of building rules that denies space for fire-fighting.

While buildings constructed prior to 1994 are exempted from setback space, the new buildings that are coming up especially the multi-storey special buildings should have a set back space of seven metres on all four sides, i.e., buildings of more than 15 metres height should have a seven metre set back space for the fire tenders and water tankers to negotiate and reach the ‘seat of fire' to battling the blaze. Simon Snorkel, an equipment with a hydraulic platform to reach a height of 130 ft and which can spray water up to 60 ft, requires enough space around the building on fire to tackle the blaze effectively.

In many cases, people install safety gadgets for the purpose of obtaining a No Objection Certificate or a fire licence.

Many of them refuse to maintain these after the inspection and their attention goes towards them only when the fire licence is due for renewal, Mr. Subramanian says.

In addition to installation and maintenance of such gadgets, there is need to impart training to people in using the building on how to use these gadgets in the event of an emergency. These gadgets need to be hooked on to a manual call point or panel board from where emergency response systems could be instantly and easily activated.

Despite misleading and prank calls, the Fire and Rescue Services makes it a point to reach the place. But the onus of preventing the fire rests on the people who use the building.

Fire and Rescue Services Personnel recall the presence of water hydrants on almost every street.

These proved immensely useful in fighting a fire that broke out nearby. But, these are hardly available now, making a quick rescue virtually impossible.

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