Collector can order closure of buildings not conforming with safety parameters

The district administration is gearing up to crack down on high rise buildings in the city functioning with scant regard for fire safety measures.

District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareed told The Hindu that suo motu inspections will be carried out randomly in high rise buildings to verify whether they conformed to the mandatory fire safety parameters. The District Collector can order the closure of buildings not confirming with safety parameters invoking his authority as Executive Magistrate.

The Collector’s decision comes in the wake of multiple reports carried by The Hindu pointing out how majority of hospitals and at least a mall in the city have been operating with utter disregard for fire safety measures. One of the reports also threw light on how the lack of personnel and equipment hampered the functioning of fire and safety department.

The district administration’s move assumes significance as the fire and rescue department lacks teeth to take action against buildings found openly flouting fire safety guidelines with its mandate restricted to merely conducting inspections. Taking advantage of this lack of authority of the Fire department, many buildings have been operating in the city in spite of multiple notices served by the department asking them to plug the gaps in the safety apparatus.

The Collector said that he was yet to receive a report from the department conveying its opinion that a shopping mall in the city poses a threat to the lives of people visiting it because of the lack of fire safety measures.

Mr. Pareed said that he will seek an explanation from the mall management on the reported lack of fire safety norms. The notice will be issued after going through the report submitted by the Fire and Rescue Services Department.

He said that directions will be given to the owners of the high rise buildings concerned to carry out regular maintenance of the firefighting facilities. Most of the equipment would become defunct if the maintenance work is not carried out properly.

The District Collector also stressed the need to step up inspections to ensure compliance of fire safety norms in high rise buildings including apartments and hospitals. He said that regular inspections will help in detecting the deficiencies in firefighting mechanism.

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