Serious violations found including lack of fire hydrants at the market

Fire safety norms have been thrown to the winds at the busy Broadway and the nearby Ernakulam market despite repeated warnings by the Department of Fire and Rescue Services over the last three years.

A fire safety assessment done by the department officials had found serious violations including the lack of fire hydrants in the Broadway and Ernakulam market visited by thousands daily.

The Hindu had learnt that the Fire and Rescue Services Department had requested the Kerala Water Authority to install a fire hydrant to step up fire fighting measures in the wake of a fire outbreak in the busy street and its bylanes.

A water hydrant or fire plug is an upright pipe with a nozzle or sprout for drawing from a water main by firefighters

A senior official pointed out that the region lacks water hydrants that are supposed to be located in several strategic areas along the street to aid quick response of the fire brigade to control a fire outbreak.

“We wrote to the Water Authority officials way back in 2009 and no action was taken,” he said.

The Fire and Rescue Services Department had also informed the Kochi Corporation authorities on several occasions that the buildings in the busy shopping area failed to adhere to the fire safety norms. Lack of adequate fire extinguishers, sprinklers and fire exits were the major deficiencies found in the area.

The assessment by the Fire Department pointed out that the narrow and congested roads prevented the entry of more than one fire tender in an emergency.

Narrow roads

Fire tenders would arrive at the spot from various units of the department within minutes of an incident.

But the vehicles will not be able to enter the fire site for lack of adequate parking space.

Officials of the Fire and Rescue Services department pointed out that majority of the building owners had refused to install fire fighting equipment stating that their buildings were just ground plus one structures in the beginning.

Lack of pavement space along the roads and absence of water storage exclusively for fire fighting also remained a bottleneck affecting timely response.

The presence of a godown storing kerosene was found to be a major threat to the security and safety of the region. The Fire and Rescue Services Department had rejected a request for providing no-objection certificate to the godown stating that it poses a huge risk to fire safety.

The assessment by the department found that mock drills were not held in the area despite several incidents of fire over the last several years. Lack of fire escape routes and setback area also added on to the existing woes in the area.

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