Mantralaya fire serves as a wake up call for the State

In the aftermath of the massive blaze at Mantralaya — the Maharashtra Secretariat in Mumbai — recently, the Karnataka State Fire and Emergency Services Department has decided to conduct an exclusive firefighting training for the officers and staff of the Vidhana Soudha, the Vikasa Soudha and all the government departments at the multi-storied (MS) building in Bangalore.

Experts from the Fire and Emergency Services Academy, Bangalore, will impart the training in batches. About 40 batches of the staff will undergo training.

Disclosing this to The Hindu, Director-General of Fire and Emergency Services Omprakash said that he had inspected the Vidhana Soudha, the Vikasa Soudha, MS building and Legislators’ Home (LH) to examine whether fire safety measures were necessary in the light of the Mumbai fire. “We checked the status of these buildings since my department had in the past issued suggestions on fire safety,” he said.

More measures

After the fire safety audit, more safety mechanisms have been recommended for the older buildings such as MS building. “We had meetings with the PWD engineers, the people in-charge of civil and electrical divisions, deputy and under secretaries of DPAR, the legislative secretaries and the people in-charge of the Legislators’ Home. A detailed procedural note has been sent to the departments so that they can comply with all the fire-safety measures,” he said.

Mr. Omprakash said the functioning of 24x7 Fire Protection Squads (FPS) at the Vidhana and Vikasa Soudhas, MS and LH buildings and the Raj Bhavan had also been reviewed and they were instructed to be on alert.

Besides training for the officers and staff, parking attendants, security staff and people handling electrical equipment in these buildings will also undergo training.

“The departments have agreed to the training; it will commence soon. The officials from the academy will go to these buildings and train the staff. A fire safety and management workshop had also been planned for top-level officers,” Mr. Omprakash said.

MS most susceptible

He said the Fire Protection Squad at MS building had attended 22 minor fires reported at the building since 1991. “We have advised the departments located in this building to regularly examine electrical devices (to prevent short circuit), take steps to prevent fires to computers or UPS devices and avoid dumping of wastes, mainly papers,” Mr. Omprakash said.

Fire safety in basements and canteens should be upgraded. A fire safety advice will be given to the multi-level parking lot which is coming up near the Legislators’ Home, which needs the NoC from the department.

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