Aimed at improving preparedness of occupants of multi-storeyed buildings

To improve the preparedness of occupants of multi-storeyed buildings in the event of a fire accident, a ‘High-rise safety programme' was held here on Tuesday.

The event, organised by St. John Safety and Health Society and SSI Development Society in the backdrop of the recent fire tragedies in Bangalore and Kolkata, is a run-up to the Fire Safety Week.

Pointing out that most high density commercial establishments in the city are not safe enough, Tamil Nadu Fire and Rescue Services Director R. Nataraj said, “Any building that is taller than 15 meters is categorised as a high-rise building. Such buildings must conduct regular awareness drills and also an annual fire safety audit. But this is not being widely implemented.”

According to National Crime Records Bureau statistics, seven per cent of accident deaths are fire related. Last year, 21,840 fire accidents in Tamil Nadu resulted in the death of 127 persons.

Stressing that simple measures such as using fire retardant casing for electrical wiring could greatly reduce the chance of a spark spreading rapidly, Mr. Nataraj said, “small oversights lead to big tragedies. Close to 70 per cent of fire accidents are caused due to electrical short circuit.”

He said that in order to improve awareness levels, plans are afoot to teach basic safety measures to small teams of students in all 48,000 government schools in the State. In turn, the team members would impart training to other children.

“We also want to initiate fire brigades at college-level,” he said.

Builders Association of India (South) Chairman M. Mohan said, “Apart from builders strictly adhering to safety requirements, occupants must also participate and sustain the efforts. Fire exit stairwells should not be the place where unwanted items get dumped. Building associations must also insist on dedicated lift operators.”

Mr. Nataraj released a handbook detailing first aid measures and other safety related aspects.