Law & OrderThe recent fire mishaps raise questions about safety of people and their properties, writes Marri Ramu

There is no dispute that many lives would have been lost if the fire, which gutted over 50 stalls at a private exhibition in Kukatpally a week ago, had broken out in the evening.

The gathering at the site in the evenings, especially during weekends, was too high. Outbreak of fire in the packed exhibition ground with single entry and exit points would have resulted in panic and stampede killing many people, felt everyone including the police, the fire service authorities and the stall owners.

This and the scores of fire mishaps - small and big - reported this summer raised questions about the safety of people, their property and fire safety measures at public and private places witnessing large gatherings.

Apart from the amusement section comprising giant wheels, joy riding machines and eateries, there were over 100 stalls in the exhibition spread over two acres of land.

At least three to five thousands of people would be present in the evening hours at the exhibition, according to police.

While that commanded safety precautions of a higher level, not even the mandatory maintenance of a barrel of 200 litres of water for each stall was complied with.

Fire extinguishers too were not sufficient. Guards or volunteers in adequate number were not deployed to look after the safety at such a big site. The police claim that that they had given permission to the event based on the certificate issued by the Fire Services Department and the responsibility of ensuring fire safety rests with the latter.

Nine days ago fire started on the fourth floor of a lodge at Chirag Ali Lane in Abids endangering lives of inmates of six rooms. There was no sufficient space at the building to manoeuvre the fire tender to sprinkle water, making it difficult to rescue the people trapped inside.

Hotel fire

The fire accident in Sitara hotel at L.B. Nagar four months ago, which posed threat to lives of 800 guests inside, too exposed glaring infrastructural loopholes in preventing such incidents. Police found that the hotel management had permitted three different functions on its premises which was beyond its capacity.

While this made evacuating people and taking vehicles out of the hotel a tough task, delay in arrival of fire tenders increased the risk element.

The death of seven persons in a fire accident at a settlement of 100 huts in Gundlapochampally on city outskirts in February last too had lessons to be learnt.

Narrow exits

Narrow and only two exit points of the settlement -where huts were built mostly with inflammable material- led to serious human and property loss in this case, the investigators found.

An analysis of fire mishaps in industrial units, suggested that fire fighting foam should be kept available both by the government fire tenders and the managements of factories as a precaution.

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